Passing of Walter Palmer


In his lifetime, Walter Benjamin Palmer was journalist, economist, government official, but most of all a Phi. The Fraternity had 19 chapters when he signed The Bond at Georgia Beta in 1873. When he died there were 86 active chapters. No one had done more than he in the growth and development of Phi Delta Theta. From age 23, he attended every convention but one, when he was in Europe.

Described by Havighurst, “His tall, straight figure, his grave and kindly face and his deliberate, thoughtful voice were familiar to thousands of Phis.”

His definitive history of Phi Deha Theta was a landmark in the literature of American education.

Palmer had battled illness of different kinds through much of his 62 years, but his energy never waned and tributes poured in from around the nation.

His funeral was at his home on West 147th Sfreet, February 19, with the Fratemity ritual conducted by two past presidents of the General Council, Guy Potter Benton and Frank J. R. Mitchell. He was buried the following day in the Hillsdale Cemetery in Haverhill, Massachusetts, his wife’s ancestral home.

The General Council, in an unprecedented step, declared that the 10 days between March 5th and 15th be a mourning period with members to wear black ribbons around their pins and other insignia.

Palmer did not live long enough to see the much needed development of a central office take place. But that had been a dream of his and other Fratemity leaders for two decades.