Sunday, August 04, 2013

The passing of Sue Palmer

Remember prayerfully and with thanksgiving this morning, please, the life of the Rev. Sue Palmer --- friend to all, wife of John and mother of Cathy, vicar of St. Andrew's Church, Chariton, and Grace Church, Albia --- who died at 10:30 last evening at Mercy Medical Center, Des Moines.

Sue had returned during July to her duties in the parish, pain-free for the first time in many years, after weeks of recuperation from complex back surgery.

On Saturday morning, she lost her footing and fell on the front steps of her beloved Grace Church, sustained a catastrophic head injury and was life-flighted to Des Moines, where she died after her immediate family had gathered. 

The Episcopal priesthood was a second career for Sue, a retired educator and administrator. She had served her home parish, Grace, as well as St. Andrew's, since her ordination first as deacon and then as priest several years ago.

A woman of great generosity, her kindness knew no denominational limits. Sue fed the hungry, soothed the afflicted and comforted those who mourned --- tirelessly. Because of her willingness to give, she sometimes was taken advantage of; knew that; laughed --- and continued to give. 

Her homilies were brief, invariably based upon scriptural lessons of the day, often funny and sometimes incorporated what she called "the southern Iowa translation." A Welsh coal-miner's granddaughter, she relished her heritage and fine music.

It never occurred to Sue that anyone could fall outside the circle of grace. She joyfully performed one of southern Iowa's first same-sex marriages soon after Iowa, The Episcopal Church and the Episcopal Diocese of Iowa granted authorization.

I know of no one who better exemplified this prayer, attributed to St. Francis: "Lord, make us instruments of your peace. Where there is hatred, let us sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is discord, union; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; where there is sadness, joy. Grant that we may not so much seek to be consoled as to console; to be understood as to understand; to be loved as to love. For it is in giving that we receive; it is in pardoning that we are pardoned; and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life. Amen." (Book of Common Prayer, Page 833).

Memorial services have been scheduled for 11 a.m. Thursday at Trinity United Methodist Church in Albia with Bishop Alan Scarfe of the Episcopal Diocese of Iowa as officiant. Visitation will be at the church from 9 until 11 a.m. Interment will be at a later date in the columbarium at the Episcopal Church of St. John the Baptist  in Wausau, Wisconsin.


Ellen Jennings said...

Thank you for posting such a beautiful remembrance of Sue. She was my HS teacher and my role model as I became a teacher myself. We were lucky to have known her.
Ellen (Jenkins) Jennings

Rick & Donna Whisler said...

Beautiful tribute! Sue was an amazing woman and anyone who knew her loved her. Rest in peace Sue.

Willa Goodfellow said...

Thank you for this. "It never occurred to Sue that anyone could could fall outside the circle of grace." - the truest line. I have moved to Oregon, and won't make it back - have to figure out the right way to celebrate her life here.