Palmer, Mary Frances, August 27, 1934 – December 19, 2017


Mary Frances (Myers) Palmer, of Winona, Minn., died on Tuesday, December 19, 2017, at the Episcopal Church Home of Minnesota in St. Paul, Minn.

Mary Frances was born on August 27, 1934, to Robert Francis and Reba (Allen) Myers in Denton, Texas. She married Jim O’Connor on February 24, 1953; they had two children and divorced. She married Lyelle Lee Palmer on August 27, 1962, and they had one child.

An honor graduate of Highland Park High School in Dallas, Texas, Mary Frances earned a degree in music education, magna cum laude, from Southern Methodist University. She was a trained Montessori teacher and was, for seven years, the director of children’s ministries at First Methodist Church in Denton, Texas, then directed program day care activities for the elderly in Ames, Iowa, and Rushford, Minn.; she was later a field advisor for the River Trails Girl Scout Council in Southeast Minnesota where she trained leaders and co-directed summer day camps.

Her musical career began early with outstanding piano and organ recognition as a teenager leading to positions as organist for several churches beginning in high school; she wrote and recorded albums of children’s music and stories for Word Records; she taught piano, was a volunteer hand bell director and ringer, sang with Winona’s Steamer City Sweet Adelines, performed in the “Sound of Music,” wrote and published poetry, and performed classical ragtime piano literature.

Memberships included the American Association of University Women, the Daughters of Texas, Daughters of the American Revolution, Delta Delta Delta sorority, and the Pi Lambda music academic honorary society.

In Winona she served on the Board of Directors of the Women’s Resource Center, facilitated an ongoing WRC Wise Women discussion group, and organized the first annual WRC garden tour. Her favorite hobby was reading and literature discussion; she enjoyed drama, opera, sailing and world travel as well as family genealogy.

Mary Frances is survived by her husband, Lyelle Palmer; brother, Allen R. Myers (Mardi) in Dallas, Texas; daughters, Kathy O’Connor (Roger Cooper), Sobastopol, Calif., Laurie O’Connor, Salt Lake City, Utah, Madeline Fyten (Tod), St. Paul, Minn.; seven grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren.

Following cremation, memorial services will be scheduled in January at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Winona and at St. John the Evangelist Episcopal Church in St. Paul.

Memorials should be directed to the Women’s Resource Center of Winona.

Services entrusted to Fawcett Junker Funeral Home, Winona, Minn., and Fountain City, Wis. Words of sympathy or remembrance may be directed to

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