Sidney Jewell Palmer
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Sidney Jewell Palmer COLUMBIA - Sidney Jewell Palmer was born in Baytown, Texas, to Lizzette Shilling Palmer and Jewell Sidney Palmer in 1928. All of his life he possessed an insatiable thirst for knowledge, the classics and innovative technology. He began the study of music at age 4 at the Houston Conservatory of Music under the tutelage of Mozart Hammond. At age 7, he began to play small solo piano performances under the supervision of faculty members, and he gradually moved to solo recitals and concert performances, and as a featured soloist with orchestras. After graduating the Conservatory at age 12, Mr. Palmer received his degree in composition and conducting from the University of Texas at age 17. He also studied conducting under Leonard Bernstein and composition with Olivier Messian at the Berkshire Music Center. He was a teaching fellow at The Juilliard School of Music where he studied piano with Mme. Olga Samarov. During World War II, Mr. Palmer toured with pianist Norma Holmes performing two-piano classical music concerts to troops around the US. After the war, he toured North America as a concert pianist and conductor, served as staff accompanist at the Metropolitan Opera, and was music director and principal conductor of The Little Rock Philharmonic where he received the prestigious "Arkansas Traveler" award from the Arkansas legislature. While living in New York and working at NBC Radio, he was introduced to the medium of television, and began working as a producer of "Toscanini and the NBC Symphony Orchestra", as well as other programming. He was later sent by NBC to Columbia, SC, to direct the path of its affiliate WIS-TV. While working in commercial television as an Executive Producer at Cosmos Broadcasting Company and WIS, he received a George Foster Peabody Award, a Clio Award, and was nominated for an Emmy for his televised version of Cinderella, featuring the Columbia City Ballet. In 1979 Mr. Palmer moved to the South Carolina ETV Network to accept the position of Executive Director for National Programming. It was there that he produced operas, such as The Consul, Vanessa, and Willie Stark for the Great Performances series, and Pilobolus and The Paul Taylor Dance Company for the Dance in America series. Mr. Palmer was producer and director for the first series of The Great American Short Story for PBS and the American producer of Cosi fan tutte at Glyndebourne. He was producer and director of the world's first live satellite-interconnect, Christmas Around the World; in which programming originated simultaneously in seven countries on four continents and was seen live as a single program in over 30 countries throughout the world. While at SCETV, Mr. Palmer was awarded the George Foster Peabody Award for his work on The Great American Short Story, as well as an Emmy Nomination and Ohio State award for The Cinematic Eye. Along with his career in television, Mr. Palmer was the ten-year artistic director and conductor of the Columbia Lyric Opera Theatre, was Artist-in-Residence at Columbia College for over 30 years, and pursued his hobby of photography. He has been awarded the South Carolina Arts Commission's Elizabeth O'Neill Verner Award, the South Carolina Order of the Palmetto, and three honorary doctorate degrees. As a composer, in 2015 the USC Symphony honored him with a concert of his symphonic works. Mr. Palmer is survived by his beloved wife of 50 years, Leila Ann "Lanny" Sullivan Palmer; daughters, Ann Palmer Benson (David Bankston), Mary Benson Keenan (Billy); grandsons, Joe Keenan (Julie) and Palmer Keenan (Celia); great-grandson, Liam Keenan; and cousin, Lola Kay Hood of Houston, Texas. He was predeceased by his parents, and by his younger brother, Dr. Wilfred Palmer. The family would like to thank the caring nursing staff and administration at Laurel Crest; caretakers, Thelma Coe, Essie Smith, and Yvette Somerville; and nursing administrator, Cessandra Carter. A visitation will be held from 3 until 6 o'clock on Sunday, August 21, 2016, at the Keenan home, 4787 Heath Hill Road, Columbia, 29206. The memorial service will be private. Shives Funeral Home, Trenholm Road Chapel, is assisting the family. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to the Lanny and Sidney Palmer Cultural Endowment Fund at the South Caroliniana Library, 1600 Hampton Street, Columbia, SC 29208, or to the charity of one's choice. Memories and condolences may be shared at

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Published in The State on Aug. 21, 2016.
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Memories & Condolences
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8 entries
August 22, 2016
The Midlands has lost a cultural icon. Lanny has lost her most fervent fan. His family should take comfort in the professional legacy he leaves in the lives of all of us who were privileged to work with him at any level. Our prayers for all who loved and respected him.
Robert Glymph
August 22, 2016
Sidney was an extraordinary artist with an extraordinary capacity to support and encourage others. I am personally grateful for his ever present support of the development of the dance department at Columbia College. He understood what we were reaching for and donated countless hours of his time to document CC dance concerts with his gifts of photography. Friend and dear mentor, your life and work have inspired so many. Love to Lanny and family from Libby Patenaude.
August 22, 2016
In loving memory of a wonderful person. We will love you and miss you always.
Joseph Byrne
August 22, 2016
My first encounter with Sidney was a view of him peering down at me as I played piano in the orchestra pit at the Koger Center, smiling and showering me with kind words. That was the beginning of a collaboration with him on numerous musical projects at Columbia College that spanned a number of years. He and Lanny were good friends to my family and we enjoyed their company at many social occasions in each other's homes. It was always remarkable to listen to Sidney's ideas and recollections. David, Marcus and I will miss his phone calls and encounters, but will continue to enjoy memories, his photographs and his compositions, several of which I have been privileged to perform with Sandlapper Singers. Our thoughts and prayers are with Lanny and Ann and Mary at this time when the world changes.
Lucinda Shields
August 21, 2016
I'm so very sorry to hear of Sidney's passing. I was introduced to him years ago by our mutual friend Zane Knauss, and from then on found chances to meet with him at concerts and other events around town. Now both he and Zane have moved on, and my life is lessened. Farewell, old fellow and friend.
August 21, 2016
Sodney and Lanny were friends to many and especially to Gene and me. We enjoyed spending time together when we moved to South Carolina.
I got to know Sidney well over the years as we volunteered to tally ratings for the NATS competitions each year! RIP my friend!
Janet Ferguson
August 21, 2016
Great man who did a lot for Columbia College vocal program, getting the most out of the students. He will truly be missed. Our sincere condolences to the family.
Ralph,Martha Pratt
August 21, 2016
Sydney was a tremendous blessing to so many in this community and beyond! A true gentleman, man of many achievements and a great presence in the arts. Sending condolences to Sidney's family. I am so sorry for your loss.
Martha Brim
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