Family History III: Legacy

On June 2, 1962, Edward Leo Palmer married his wife Ruth Ann.  They went on to have two children, Ed and Jennifer.  Ed and Ruth Ann later divorced, but he remains close to his children, and on good terms with Ruth Ann.

The Family

The Family; courtesy of Ed Palmer


Ruth Ann:

Ruth Ann Pugh was born March 17, 1941 in Pennsylvania.

“We both went to Gettysburg College.  She was from Confluence, PA.”

Here is Dr. Palmer on how he and Ruth and met:

“On our first date, I had laryngitis, and she was very kind and very comforting of that, and that impressed me.”

“Her senior year there, each of the sororities had to do a musical something, and her sorority did a choral arrangement… she directed it, I had written it, and that was a special kind of sharing time.  They didn’t win… but it was special to do that.”

“I was in seminary a year before we got married.  Wags and his wife Helen helped a lot with the arranging… so we had the wedding there, and we went to ‘Farm on the Hill’, and we had our honeymoon up there.”

The Wedding of Ed and Ruth Ann; courtesy of Ed Palmer

After he graduated seminary, the couple moved up to Ohio, where Ed, then called Eddie, was born.  A more detailed look at Dr. Palmer’s education and work history can be found here.  While he was pursuing his doctorate, however, Dr. Palmer got burned out and returned to Hagerstown to work at a radio station.  His wife and son stayed.  It was a tough time for Dr. Palmer.

“She was teaching… at a laboratory school… at the University of Ohio.”

“By that time, we had had Eddie.  He had been born, so she and he stayed there.”

“For a while they did come back in to an apartment in Hagerstown, and we all were there together for a while.  But then she went back to Ohio.”

“I ended up needing some therapy.  I was in a facility there in Leitersburg.  And when I got out of there, she had gone back to Ohio.  So, I was pretty angry… I just thought, ‘I can do this on my own.’”

“It was tough.  It was one of the challenges that I think really kind of set the stage for some things that didn’t positively work out later.”

The marriage lasted much longer, however, and eventually the couple moved to Davidson, where Dr. Palmer had been hired, and where his daughter Jennifer was born.  As time went on, however, things began to unravel, and it began to come to a head as Dr. Palmer returned from his second sabbatical in California.  More information on this trip and others can be found here. 

“What had happened was, they were in a charistmatic – sort of a cult – church.”

“In that church setting, I was the outsider, because I was not a part of it… It just got to the point where, for my own sanity, I just needed to get out.”

Ultimately, after Jennifer left for college, the two got a divorce, which was incredibly hard for Dr. Palmer.

“We separated in 1987.  It was three years of legal stuff that probably put two attorneys’ kids through a year or so of Duke.”

Dr. Palmer and Ruth Ann decided to maintain a friendly relationship, however, for the sake of their children.

“But, we’re on friendly terms.”

“After all of the ugliness, we decided… that we weren’t going to have the kids trying to figure out how they were going to get to mom and get to dad at Christmas, or how they were going to get to mom and get to dad in the summer, that we would come together with them to do that… and we still do that.”

“And the kids appreciate that.”

Dr. Palmer's ex-wife, Ruth Ann; courtesy of Ed Palmer

Since the divorce, Ruth Ann continued to pursue her career in education.

“She lives in Savannah.  She is a very gifted educator… she had that gift.”



Edward Lee Palmer was born February 2, 1965 in Ohio.

Edward Lee Palmer as a child; courtesy of Ed Palmer


“He has some good memories of our time together in Ohio.”

Here is Dr. Palmer sharing one his favorite memories of that time:

Eddie was also one of the main reasons that Dr. Palmer wanted to return to Ohio to finish his dissertation.

“He was probably about four when I went back, and I felt I wanted to be with him.”

“When I finished my dissertation, we went fishing… and we caught one!  Then we didn’t know what to do with it, because neither one of us were fishing people.”

Dr. Palmer laughs about the hairstyle that his son sported in the late eighties.

“His hair was long.  He kept it that way for a while… Dad never said anything about it. – just let him do it.  And then, one day, he got a job, where it somehow got changed.”

By the time his parents got divorced, the younger Ed was already a grown man.

“Ed was already gone.”

In fact, he was working, and continues to work in the radio business, like his father, which is certainly no coincidence.  Here is Dr. Palmer on how that came about:

He doesn’t just carry on the family legacy in music however.  One of the interesting things about Ed is the way in which he carries on the family name, especially the middle name.  Dr. Palmer’s Grandfather was Edward L., and they did not know what the L stood for.  His father, R. Leon was the only one who was not an Edward.  Dr. Palmer himself is Edward Leo, and his son is Edward Lee.

“I’m Edward Leo, and he’s Edward Lee.  We didn’t want to make him junior.”

“But we created some problems actually, doing it that way.”

Here is Dr. Palmer sharing a funny story about an issue caused by the similarity in name:


Jennifer Lynn Palmer was born December 7, 1971 in Davidson, NC.

Jennifer as a Young Girl in 1977; courtesy of Ed Palmer

“Jennifer was born here [Davidson].”

“They both enjoyed Davidson.  Davidson’s a great place for kids, and it’s a wonderful place to grow up.”

“I was determined that she was not going to be the traditional gender stereotype.  But it didn’t stick.  [He chuckles.]  So, I don’t know what I did wrong.”

“She has the writing thing.  She’s the writing, and the poet, and the music.  So that’s part of what we share.”

Dr. Palmer loves his daughter, and hated to hurt her by getting a divorce.

“I waited as long as possible, until Jenn was as old as possible until I did it.”

Unlike her older brother, Jennifer was still young.  Though she had recently left for college, the divorce had a negative impact on her.

“She got in some trouble.”

“She came and told me about it, and told me what she had done.”

“I think basically that whole episode was because I wasn’t here.  It was the gaining assurance that I was still with her.  She had that assurance by the time we were all through with that.”

It is clear now though that their relationship is one of love.  Indeed, much like with his son, Dr. Palmer’s influence can be seen in his daughter’s interest in music as a child.

“She’s accomplished on piano and she’s accomplished on flute.”

Additionally, and again as in the case of his son, Dr. Palmer’s involvement in Psychology played a role in shaping his daughter’s career choice.  Here he is describing Jennifer’s transition from an interest in medicine to her current field:

That career choice led to other important life developments as well, notably the start of Jennifer’s family.

“Mark was in that program at Tennessee, and they met there.”

A link to Jennifer’s site for work can be found here.


The Next Generation:

“Family is caring for one another, giving to one another, making amends when you have hurt one another, and trying to – with those who are following after you, the little ones, – trying to give them the values of ‘doing for others’ and reaching out and caring.”

Each of his children is now married, and each has two children. 

Ed married a woman named Ivy Mathis, and their children are Mathis Boomer, called “Boomer” and born October 11, 2007, and Natalie Shay, born August 16, 2011.

Jennifer married Mark Bowler, and their children are Mason Connor, born June 13, 2008, and Jacob Mitchell, born October 18, 2010.

“I don’t know Natalie Shay too well yet.”

Grandfather Ed holding the four-day-old Natalie Shay Palmer; courtesy of Ed Palmer

As the youngest member of Ed’s family grows up, however, and as more follow, they will carry on Dr. Palmer’s legacy, a life full of love and caring.


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