Rev. Dr. G. Melvin Palmer, 1928-2011

Mel Palmer, 83, who served 32 years on Elon’s board of trustees, died Oct. 28.

Dr. Palmer, of Greensboro, N.C., was often referred to as the wise “conscience of the board and its moral guide,” drawing on his decades of service as a minister of the United Church of Christ.

He was elected to the board of trustees in 1973, served as chair in 1994-1995, and completed 32 years of service in 2005 when he was elected trustee emeritus.

Palmer was the first president of the Southern Conference of the UCC and led the church in its desegregation efforts. He retired in 1994 after 42 years of parish ministry, including 32 years as pastor of Greensboro’s Peace United Church of Christ.

Palmer was awarded the Elon Medallion in 1998 by then-president J. Fred Young. In honoring Palmer, Young noted his ability to speak to the needs of Elon “with compassion, integrity and vision… reminding us there is no higher calling than educating the mind and spirit.”

Palmer served as close adviser to Young and current President Leo M. Lambert, who called Palmer a “giant” on the board for many years. “He will be sorely missed by all who loved him,” Lambert said.

Palmer grew up in Lexington, N.C., and was a 1949 graduate of Catawba College and Lancaster Theological Seminary (1952). He earned his master’s of education degree from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro in 1971 and a doctorate in education from UNCG in 1974.

Palmer is survived by his wife, Pat, a son, David Palmer, two daughters, E. Lynn Mills and Carol Palmer Cain, and one grandchild, Emma Cain.

There will be a private burial Monday morning, October 31, followed by a funeral service at 2:00 p.m. at Peace United Church of Christ, 2714 West Market Street in Greensboro. A reception in the church fellowship hall will follow the service. Forbis and Dick Funeral Services, 1118 North Elm Street, Greensboro, is assisting the family with arrangements.