“She felt like a mom to me and I feel that she considered me as a daughter,” Pat Shute, Carol’s niece, recalled. “She didn’t have children of her own but she was supportive and she treated each person as they were. They were special to her.”
Carol grew up with seven sisters and two brothers during the Great Depression. The family was hit hard from the economic downfall, and her nephews attributed her giving nature to that early experience.
“Being shaped by her own impoverished childhood made her want to help others, especially those affected by poverty,” said her nephew, Mike Shute.
Carol attended Syracuse University followed by Hartford Seminary, and then began her life of service as the director of Christian education at a church in Connecticut. Later, she attended SUNY Cortland where she received her master’s degree in education. She also met and married Emiel Palmer, who worked for 39 years at the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry. He loved folk arts and charitable giving as much as Carol did.
Giving was central to Carol’s life. “It was really her way of fulfilling her Christian doctrine,” said Mike. In addition to helping her family and the Plymouth Congregational Church, Carol also supported the Southern Poverty Law Center, Berea College, the Rescue Mission, The Salvation Army and Habitat for Humanity.
Emiel, who passed away in 2002, and Carol worked their whole lives to accumulate their wealth. Their bequest, which formed the Carol W. & Emiel D. Palmer Fund at the Community Foundation, totaled nearly $300,000.
Tom Griffith, vice president of development at the Community Foundation, said Carol was drawn to establishing an endowed community fund for its longevity.
“Part of our mission is to celebrate the legacy of people like Carol who care about Central New York,” he said. “We are honored that she chose to work with us in this way and look forward to stewarding her fund and her story for decades to come.”
Tom added how her legacy will carry on: “Now, Carol’s ability to make each person feel special will reach beyond her imagination as her generous spirit will live on through her fund, supporting generations of Central New Yorkers.”