Kathryn (Kathy) Sylvia Palmer blessed this world on November 16, 1946. She was the first born of Joseph S. and Pearl Y. Palmer. Her homecoming to Glory occurred far too soon on June 16, 2006 due to brain cancer. She was loved and respected by everyone whose lives she touched. Her smile was a beam of sunshine; her beauty was a many-faceted rainbow, her hugs could melt glaciers. Kathy will be remembered for her testament of faith and strength as she fought cancer with grace and bravery always maintaining a winning attitude with the hope that God would provide the miracle of complete healing. Through His grace many miracles occurred because of this incredible lady’s belief in His greatness. Words are not adequate to express how her family, friends, students, and colleagues will miss her. Her love gave us roots to find our way and strengthen our wings.
Kathy was born in Aurora, Illinois and moved to Lansing, Illinois at the age of eight. She attended Indiana Avenue Grade School, Memorial Junior High, and graduated from Thornton Fractional South High School in 1964. She received her Bachelor of Arts Degree in Education from Central College in Pella, Iowa in 1968. While teaching in Minneapolis, she met the love of her life, Stan Hill, whom she married on August 1, 1970 at Grace Reformed Church in Lansing, IL. As newlyweds, they started their life together in Valley City and Fargo, North Dakota. In 1976, they moved to Billings, Montana, where Kathy began fulfilling her life’s dream of living in Montana. She was a woman of all seasons, accomplished skier, accomplished fly-fisherwoman and master gardener. She was a woman who was engaged in every experience with joyous enthusiasm and participation. She loved animals, especially cats, dogs, horses and horseback riding. She was the greatest fan club for her children, Sarah and Jon, who participated in football, soccer, baseball, track, volleyball, barrel racing, and as many other sports as she could fit into their lives.
In 1993 she graduated with honors and received a Masters of Education (School Counseling Option) from Montana State University- Billings. That same year, the MSU-B faculty of the School of Education and Human Services selected her for the 1993 Award of Excellence.
As an educator in Billings, Kathy began touching the lives of children and families in 1976 where she taught at Garfield Elementary. She moved to Rimrock Elementary where she taught fifth and sixth grades for 15 years. She was an accomplished musician and loved the arts. During her years at Rimrock, she wrote, produced, and directed huge musical programs involving the entire school, complete with costuming, and wonderful acting. Her principal praised these programs to be of professional caliber. For the next 13 years, she was a guidance counselor at Will James Middle School. Kathy understood people and knew how to bring out the best in others, and was “totally fearless,” when it was required. She could handle any situation. She was articulate and competent; she was tough when she needed to be, and gentle when the situation demanded it. She truly loved kids, and they truly loved her for her compassion, her integrity and her understanding of the human condition. She built self-esteem in all she came in contact with. She was a positive high-energy individual. She made learning a meaningful and wonderful experience. She was the essence of what an educator should strive to be. In 1986, she was one of the first winners of the Golden Apple award, a distinguished award that carries prestige and honor for outstanding educators nominated by students, peers, and administrators. She strove for excellence in all pursuits — family, friends, and profession. She was the best of the best.
She is survived by her eternally loving family; her devoted husband, Stan, her children, Dr. Sarah Hill (Ft. Lauderdale, FL) and Jon Hill (Whitefish, MT); parents Joseph and Pearl Palmer (Gallatin, MO); siblings Carolyn Hartley (Raleigh, NC) and Dr. Steve Palmer (Boston, MA). Kathy was pre-deceased by her brother, Jim Palmer (Charleston, SC), and her father-in-law, Floyd Hill, whom she has joined in Glory; her mother-in-law, Viola Hill (Roundup, MT); sisters-in law, Joan and Brendan Murphy (Winnett, MT); Virginia and Pearl Mart (Columbus, MT); Sharon and Cal Wilson (Minneapolis, MN); brothers in law, Bruce Hill (Denver, CO); and numerous nieces and nephews. She also is survived by her most cherished chocolate Labrador, Maggie, and blessed family, friends, and students whose lives she changed forever.
Visitation will begin at 7:00 to 9:00, Wednesday, June 21 at Michelotti-Sawyers Mortuary, 1001 Alderson Avenue. Services for family and friends will be held at 11:00 a.m. Thursday, June 22, at Faith Chapel, 517 Shiloh Road. Graveside services will be at Yellowstone Valley Memorial Park, 3605 Grand Avenue, immediately after services, followed by a reception at Faith Chapel living room.
In lieu of flowers, memorials can be made to an organization dear to Kathy’s heart: Tumbleweed Runaway Program, 3311 Fourth Avenue N., Billings, MT, 59101; or YWCA, 909 Wyoming Avenue, Billings, MT, 59102; or Angel Fund, c/o Billings School District #2, 415 N. 30th, Billings, MT, 59101; Rocky Mountain Hospice, 2110 Overland Avenue, Suite 111, Billings, MT 59102; American Cancer Society Relay For Life, 550 N. 31st Street, Billings, MT 59101.
Go with God, our beloved Kathy. You have honored, inspired and blessed us with your presence. I love you with my mind, my heart, and my soul. Love Eternal, Stan