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Alice Mary McGinnis Palmer


A memorial service was held for Alice Mary McGinnis Palmer, formerly of Galesburg, Sunday, May 24, 2009 in Estes Park, Colo.


She was born Nov. 25, 1909, in Hyde Park, Chicago, to Blanche O'Toole and Edwin McGinnis.

After graduating from high school she married Frank Kindig in 1927.

Her daughter Suzanne was born in 1929. The marriage ended in 1931.

To support herself and her daughter during the Great Depression, Mrs. Palmer worked as a secretary for the International Harvester Company.

On March 28, 1940, she married Clark F. Palmer, an engineer and inventor, also from Hyde Park, and in 1941 she gave birth to Charles. When Pearl Harbor was attacked, Mr. Palmer joined the Naval Officer's Training program, commissioned, and served as commander of a ship in the South Pacific during World War II.

Mrs. Palmer remained in Chicago to take care of her children. In 1942 she gave birth to her second daughter, Mary Alice, and in 1945 her second son, Richard.

At the close of WWII Mr. Palmer returned home and soon after the family settled in Galesburg to live as she always dreamed: in a big house with a big yard and a big family rich in children.

Over the next three years they had two more children, Robert, and Kathleen.  They stopped at six.  

As a resident of Galesburg beginning in 1946, Mrs. Palmer became involved in civic life. She attended Knox College, became active in the League of Women Voters, was notably instrumental in bringing city-manager style government to Galesburg, and was appointed to serve as a delegate to the Illinois Constitutional Convention.

She served as an active member of the Knox-Galesburg Symphony Orchestra Guild, the Galesburg Women's Club, and the Daughters of the American Revolution, where she was proud of the fact that her ancestors served in the Revolutionary, Spanish-American, and Civil Wars.

Inspired by her childhood on the undeveloped Michigan Lake front in Chicago, she was first and always a conservationist. A voracious reader, from an early age she gained an expertise in environmental issues, and as an activist, made it her life's work to focus public attention on preserving the native habitats of North America. She was a member of The Nature Conservancy, the Wilderness Society, and the Illinois Audubon Society where she served in several capacities as a state officer.

To educate the public, she wrote a regular column on bird behavior for the Galesburg Post, and frequently contributed commentary to the Register Mail editorial page.

Mrs. Palmer was a world traveler, visiting in her lifetime all continents but Australia, and returning several times to religious shrines and environmentally threatened areas in India, Nepal, Tibet, Greece, Israel, Egypt, the British Isles, and areas in North and South America. She was a strong presence and inspiration in her children's lives. As a wife and mother, she maintained a home filled with family artifacts, antiques, and fine art; produced a voluminous assortment of fine quality handwork; and devoted herself to her family.  Together they traveled each summer throughout the  U.S. and visited the National Parks and Forests. 

Her generosity extended to Native Americans and she was invited to participate in religious ritual. She visited sweat lodges and learned healing ceremonies. Late in life she became active in the Association for Research and Enlightenment and meditated on a daily basis, and she learned and practiced yoga.

Although Mrs. Palmer took walks every day of her life regardless of the weather, at age 92 she began to decline and soon moved to Boulder, Colo.

Her legacy includes a range of activities from the small: helping to establish the Arboretum in Galesburg's Standish Park, to the large: leaving a filing cabinet stuffed with copies of letters to and from governors, congressmen, and presidents, urging that we protect the Everglades, the Appalachian Trail, our rivers, prairies, marshes, and many other habitats we now enjoy. 

Alice Palmer was preceded in death by her firstborn son, Charles, who was interred in Arlington National Cemetery in 1969; her husband, Clark, in 1972; and her son, Richard, in 1999. She is survived by four of her children: Suzanne McGinnis Kindig of Bozeman, Mont.; Mary Palmer Redenius of Boulder, Colo.; Robert Claude Palmer of Downers Grove and Kathleen Palmer Balderson of Macomb; 14 grandchildren, and 12 great-grandchildren. 

At her request, on her death in Boulder, Colo., from complications due to Alzheimer's, Mrs. Palmer's remains were cremated.

Her memorial service took place in the Dannen Chapel at the Estes Park Y Camp of the Rockies at 12:30 p.m. Sunday, May 24, 2009, with Chaplain Mary Dobbs conducting the ceremony. According to her wishes, Mrs. Palmer's ashes were disbursed, by permit, in Rocky Mountain National Park - her favorite place, and as she said: "the most beautiful place on earth."

Only family members were present.

Alice Mary McGinnis Palmer led a life blessed by beauty, generosity, and grace.


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