The Alan Palmer Scholarship
honors alumnus’ zest for life
Alan Palmer ’86Ox-’88C had three passions in life, according to those who knew him best: golf, his friends, and Oxford College.
Palmer, president of the Palmer Agency in Decatur, died suddenly of a heart attack in 2003 at age thirty-seven. His family and friends decided to hold an annual Alan Palmer Memorial Golf Tournament, with the proceeds going to fund a scholarship in his name at Oxford.
The Alan Palmer Scholarship is now endowed and has reached more than $120,000.
“It was such a tragedy for us to lose Alan,” says his sister, Myra Palmer, who took his place at their family’s life and health insurance brokerage agency after his death. “But the opportunity to help someone else enjoy Oxford the way he did—my brother would love this. It’s very comforting for us as a family.”
A near-scratch golfer, Palmer played the game every chance he got, says his sister, especially when it came to charity tournaments, several of which he helped to organize. Every two years, he and a group of friends went to either Ireland or Scotland to play on the world’s most famous courses. “His motto was: ‘Grip it! Rip it! Leave nothing in the bag!’, ” Myra Palmer says.
The first Alan Palmer tournament was September 27, 2004, at the Druid Hills Country Club, and although it rained for much of the day, his friends still gathered, clearing almost $30,000 for the scholarship fund.
“I came to discover that Alan was a fierce competitor at every sport he played, from soccer to golf to whiffle ball,” says Matt Jewell ’88C, who was on Emory’s varsity soccer team with Palmer as well as a fraternity brother in Kappa Alpha. “Alan was bright, engaging, hilarious, loyal, and generous. I have never met someone who had so many best friends. My wife and I joked that he was a lot like George Bailey in It’s a Wonderful Life, one of Alan’s all-time favorite movies, because he worked in the family business, which he had taken over when his father retired, and he had so many friends from so many different places.”
The scholarship will be given annually to a rising sophomore at Oxford who exhibits leadership qualities similar to those of Palmer.
“Alan was one of those larger-than-life characters, who possessed the campus from the moment he set foot here as a freshman,” says W. Thomas Wilfong, director of development at Oxford. While at Oxford, Palmer was tapped to be Dooley’s spokesperson, representing the “spirit of Emory.”
Even after Palmer came to Emory College for his junior year, he and his friends spoke about Oxford as if it were “hallowed ground,” says Jewell.
“Alan called his father one night during his first semester at Oxford and told him that he ‘had found a home.’ Oxford remained Alan’s home from that day forward,” says Jewell, “and is without a doubt the most appropriate place to honor Alan’s memory and pay tribute to his wonderful life.”—M.J.L.