University recognizes 90-year-old’s achievements

Sara Huebner

KSU benefactor Paige Palmer celebrates life

Paige Palmer celebrates her 90th birthday at the Kent State University Museum in Rockwell Hall yesterday with family, friends and Kent State faculty. MICHELE ROEHRIG | DAILY KENT STATER

Credit: Carl Schierhorn

A good look at the accomplishments of Paige Palmer would suggest she is lying about her age.

Even at 90, Palmer focuses more on the present scene and is always thinking about the future – She doesn’t reminisce about the things she has done in her past.

“She is forward thinking,” said Jean Druesedow, director of the Kent State University Museum.

Palmer, who celebrated her 90th birthday in the Kent State University Fashion Museum in Rockwell Hall yesterday, was a pioneer in her time.

The birthday girl was known throughout northeast Ohio as the “First Lady of Fitness,” having had a fitness show on WEWS Channel 5 in Cleveland from 1948 to 1973.

Palmer was a household name with her “Paige Palmer Show,” which aired live five days a week for 25 years.

She even developed and promoted her own line of fitness equipment and a clothing line with the Paige Palmer name.

Palmer’s credentials don’t end there. She is an accomplished writer, having written books on India after she interviewed the Dalai Lama after his extradition to India. She has also written about travel and fashion.

Palmer’s birthday party, which was held at 2 p.m., brought out an array of people who have known her either through her contributions to the Kent State University Museum or from her younger years of being on television and through her travels.

Friend Janice Henderson has known Palmer for a number of years. Henderson remembers watching Palmer on TV.

Steve Sokany, associate vice president of University Development, knows Palmer through her affiliation with the museum.

“It’s a privilege to know her,” Sokany said.

He said Palmer was a major benefactor to Kent State, as she donated rare Ohio clay pottery to the museum.

Palmer’s memorabilia were showcased in 1999, and the Paige Palmer Gallery was dedicated in 2000 for her gift of a 130-piece collection of pottery.

About 100 people were invited to the invitation-only event, including Kent State University President Carol Cartwright.

Cartwright said she has often been asked who her role model is and she explained that if she had known Palmer earlier, “there would be absolutely no doubt about the answer to that question.”

Joe Macedo, associate vice president of Gifts and Estate at Kent State, said Palmer has given very generously to the museum. “She is a pioneer in her method of supporting the university.”

And her generosity doesn’t stop there.

Palmer has agreed in the settlement of her estate that her gift annuities will “ensure top rate care for the works of art,” Macedo said.

Druesedow said that because of all of the generous donations Palmer has contributed, she “treasures knowing Paige because of it.”

She also said Palmer was responsible for helping found the Platinum Circle, a group that offers financial support to the Kent State University Museum.

Palmer spoke about her life and what Kent State means to her.

“Kent State is known around the world not only because of Carol, but because of Jean and what she has brought to this museum,” Palmer said.

Contact library and information reporter Sara Huebner at [email protected]