Painting by Rita H. Sander
of Lakemont, GA.
MARGARET AUSTIN McMILLAN PALMER
Margaret was born in Fort Valley, Georgia, on October 5, 1906 to James Sidney and Margaret (White) McMillan. She was the eldest of 5 children. Only a brother, James Sidney Jr. and a younger sister, Ruth Howard survived infancy with her. She battled Asthma all through her childhood and early adult life. At that time, sitting up in a chair and smoking powders was the only answer for her condition. She spent much of her time in West Virginia with her mother's sister and her husband. The pollutants in the air made breathing harder for her in Georgia during parts of the year.
Her father's health determined they would move to Florida in 1928. He came down first and commuted back and forth until 1932 when the family moved down to stay.
They rented several different places before finally purchasing a two story home close to the downtown area of Eustis.
She spent time in Miami working in a knitting shop which she enjoyed so much she opened one of her own in the third place they rented in Eustis.. Several of her designs for dresses were featured on the cover of the Bernat Yarn Catalog. She was equally adept at crocheting, tatting, needlepoint and sewing..
She married Frank Waterman Palmer on October 18, 1941. They lived for 5 years in the apartment house he owned. Two apartments were made into one and made a large roomy home for them. Their first daughter was only about 2 months old when a hurricane came through town and necessitated priming the pitcher pump in the backyard for water, even though the house was across the street from the city water tower.
Several years later, they had a second daughter and while she was in the hospital Frank and the maid, Rosa, moved the family into a new residence. She remained there after Frank's death at the end of that year.
She moved the girls across the street three years later following her mother's death to take care of her father who was recouperating from cataract surgery. There she remained for the rest of her life.
She worked a bit as helper for an interior decorator and worked for the Supervisor of Elections of Lake Co. in the 1950's reregistering voters when the new card system was installed.
From an early age she played the piano. When she was a teenager she played so her sister and brother could dance with their friends. She also played at the motion picture theater in Fort Valley. Beginning in the 1950's she changed to the organ and was Associate Organist at First Presbyterian Church in Eustis filling in when the regular organist was away and also playing a half hour meditation music before the Sunday service. She became the organist for the Tangerine Community Church in the 1980's. She also played for funerals at Hamlin and Hilbish Funeral Home for many years.
She had never meant to teach piano lessons but a friend insisted she teach her children and that began another career. Many students got their start from her on both organ and piano.
She loved numerous activities. She played all sorts of card games, caroms, chess, checkers and worked lots of jigsaw and crossword puzzles. She was an avid reader. She belonged to the P. E. O. Sisterhood, Chapter C , the Camellia Garden Club Circle, was a 50+ yr. member of First Presbyterian Church also teaching the Cradle Roll Sunday School class, singing in the choir and attending church circle meetings.
She was active up until about two weeks before her death. She went to be with her Lord on July 5, 1996 whom she longed to see face to face. Her faith began as a very young 5 yr old praying for a baby brother. When he arrived she never doubted for a minute that Heaven was the place she would one day live in.
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© 2008- Fran Smith