Alice Howe Palmer



BAR HARBOR — Alice Howe Palmer Jan. 27, 1928 – March 22, 2013.

Alice slipped away peacefully at 85 years of age after nine years of living with the consequences of a severe and tragic stroke. She is survived by her husband of 62 years, Boyd Palmer of Salisbury Cove, who was her constant companion and caretaker during the years of her disability. She is also survived by three siblings, Ruth, Ed and Esther; daughter, Caryn, sons, Don, Eugene, Tim, their spouses (“spice”), and grandchildren. She has a large and loving extended family and friends, including Mount Desert Island families of the Muns and Clemens who provided unending warm hospitality, emergency help, good food and fun to Alice and Boyd and visiting family, easing the difficulties of living with her stroke.

Alice was born Jan. 27, 1928, in LeRoy, Ind., the daughter of Edward Gardiner Howe II and Elsie Hudson Howe, the fifth of seven children. She graduated with a BA from Earlham College in 1950 with majors in health, physical education and biology. Alice also earned a Master’s degree in Health Education from Temple University in 1976. Marrying Boyd Palmer in 1950, they worked with the American Friends Service Committee and were members of the American Society of Friends (Quakers). She played trombone in the high school band and was a proficient pianist.

A champion of fair housing for minorities, she was involved in Fair Housing Councils and legislation through the years the family lived in Delaware, Philadelphia and Syracuse. She fought “red-lining” by lenders who would not provide loans in certain neighborhoods. That work motivated her to become a real estate agent and she got her license in Syracuse, N.Y. When Boyd and Alice moved to Kensington, Md., she started her own real estate office.

Her resume circa 1986 reflects her dedication to social activism and includes co-director- American Friends Service Committee community service project; director-Fair Housing Council of Wilmington, Delaware; executive director-Pennsylvania State New Democratic Coalition; director-Northwest Philadelphia Meals-On-Wheels; branch manager-A. Mentor Real Estate, Syracuse, N.Y.; program director-training for real estate at Montgomery College in Maryland; board member-League of Women Voters; certified teacher with permanent status, New York State, and other positions and activities with women’s rights, political and community organizations.

She loved houses with character and quirky spaces, wisely choosing a series of interesting economical houses as the family moved every few years (it seemed to be a seven-year itch) to follow Boyd’s employment. Alice was quite proud when she was able to help all four children into their own houses. After her stroke took away pieces of her reason, she invented spaces and places she had “bought,” with striking imagination and determination.

After moving to Maine and retiring from real estate, her fascination with family history and genealogy flourished. She wrote several monographs about the lives of past generations with information gleaned from thousands of family letters she went through from many sources. She developed an advanced web-enabled database of New England genealogy. It was remarkable in that it tracked women with unusual circumstances such as second marriages, whose connections are often dropped in other genealogy programs.  Her work has given the family a depth of understanding about our history which we all appreciate. She was very proud of her forbearers, especially women who were involved in education. Part of her work involved going through many old letters from her great-aunt, Annie Lyon Howe, who started a school in Kobe, Japan in 1887. Consequently she was invited to Japan and attended the centennial celebration of the school on behalf of her great-aunt.

A very special part of her life was visiting her grandchildren, who were all very dear to her.

We are all immensely grateful and fortunate to have been a part of her life and will miss her terribly.

A celebration of life will be held 2 p.m. Monday, July 1, 2013, at the Hulls Cove Schoolhouse. A celebratory website is at ahp.tany.com. Donations in her honor can be made to Quaker House, 223 Hillside Ave., Fayetteville, NC 28301 or American Friends Service Committee, 1501 Cherry St., Philadelphia, PA 19102.


Know when to pay your respects.