In Memoriam: Lecturer Joan Palmer

Joan Palmer with studentsJoan Merlin Palmer, SB 63, AM ’82 and SSA Lecturer, passed away September 3, 2018.  She was 75. 

Joan was an alumna and much admired lecturer at SSA, hired as an adjunct in the 90’s and taught “Clinical Intervention with Socially Vulnerable Clients” until the Spring of 2017. During her long career as a social worker, she worked with pregnant teens for the University of Chicago Medical Center; with public housing residents at the Robert Taylor Homes for the Center for Successful Child Development; with individuals awaiting trial for capital crimes for the Cook County Public Defender; with pregnant and parenting HIV+ women at the University of Illinois Medical Center; and with and for TANF recipients at the Illinois Department of Human Services. She also worked as Clinical Consultant for the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services, Office of the Inspector General; Illinois Department of Children and Family Services; Catholic Charities; Harborquest, Inc.; and for the Institute for Community Peace.

Colleagues and students spoke often of Joan’s commitment to the field, with one colleague sharing: “Joan was deeply committed to the professional development of social workers. She spent countless hours reading and preparing to teach and mentor others, and even more time in the processes of teaching and learning in collaboration. She gave of herself willingly and generously.”  

Joan was part of the successful campaign by adjunct faculty members to organize a union as part of SEIU Local 73. She was also a member of AFSCME Council 31. 

She is survived by her husband, Patrick; sister Kate Merlin; children Laura Palmer, Aidan Palmer, and David Palmer; and grandchildren Michelle Gautier, Carlos Zelaya Lazo, Adelyn Zelaya Lazo, Kriscia Zelaya Lazo, Arvind Sadasiv, and Ravi Sadasiv.

A memorial service was held on Saturday, October 6, 2018 at 11 am at the University of Chicago Bond Chapel. A reception was held after the service at the Eckhardt Research Center, room 501, 5640 S. Ellis Ave.