MISSOULA — (1938-2019) Margery Fels Palmer, of Missoula, died on April 29, 2019, at the Memory Care unit at the Village. Margery was born on June 17, 1938, in Oakland, California. She lived in Berkeley during World War II. Her parents both worked at the shipyard in Richmond, California. After the war they moved to Los Angeles where she attended high school.
In 1956 Margery moved east to attend Antioch College, in Yellow Springs, Ohio. There, she met the love of her life, E. Macdougall “Mac” Palmer. She got her bachelors degree in mathematics, and on the day they both graduated in June, 1961, they got married. Both families, from California and Missouri, met each other for the first time on the graduation and wedding day.
After college, Mac started a job with the National Park Service, in Fredericksburg, Virginia. During their time there, Margery earned a Masters degree in the Teaching of Mathematics at the University of Virginia. Margery taught high school Mathematics in Spotsylvania Courthouse, Virginia. Their daughter Abigail was born in October, 1965.
They skipped the graduation ceremonies at Virginia, and instead attended the graduation at Antioch, where Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., gave the commencement address. In 1966 they moved to Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, in Arizona and Utah, when Mac ‘s job moved them there. In 1967 Edward Abbey worked for Mac as a seasonal ranger at Lee’s Ferry below Glen Canyon Dam — where Abbey was working on Desert Solitaire.
In 1968 they moved to Platte National Park in Sulphur, Oklahoma. After 10 years they moved to the Washington, D.C., area and lived in Beltsville, Maryland. Margery continued her education there, earning a Ph.D. in the teaching of mathematics from the University of Maryland, in College Park. She taught mathematics at the University of Maryland, and at Howard University, as well as several community colleges in the region.
Margery moved to Missoula in 1992 to be a professor at the University of Montana, and Mac followed in 1993. They became members of the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Missoula, and remained so during tumultuous and more serene times. Mac was a lifelong Unitarian, and Margery became one after they married. They were co-chairpersons of the fellowship in Missoula for their first two years here, and Margery remained as chairperson for another year. They remained active members throughout Margery’s life.
In Missoula Margery taught at the University of Montana, and tutored math students of all levels, from grade school through college. Her philosophy was to make students comfortable with math, rather than teaching them formulas or equations. Students who she tutored often began with a fear of mathematics, and then became comfortable with or even fell in love with math.
Margery is survived by her husband Mac, her daughter Abigail Palmer Meurk, Abigail’s husband Terry, and their children Olivia Catherine Meurk and Maxwell “Max” Carl Meurk. The family has requested that anyone wanting to make a donation in Margery’s memory either donate to Antioch College or the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Missoula. A memorial service will be held at a later date.