Baptist and Reflector
KINGSPORT — William L. “Bill” Palmer died Nov. 25 at his home in Kingsport at the age of 99.
Palmer was a longtime pastor in South Carolina, Virginia and Tennessee and served as president of Harrison-Chilhowee Baptist Academy (The King’s Academy) in Seymour for eight years. His Tennessee pastorates included First Baptist Church, Morristown, and Witt Baptist Church, Morristown. He also served as interim pastor of 20 churches across East Tennessee. According to friends and family, his love for people and Jesus Christ kept him active in ministry until he was 85 years old.
Palmer, a veteran of World War II, served Southern Baptists at all levels, including first vice president of both the South Carolina Baptist Convention and the Tennessee Baptist Convention. He later was elected president of the TBC.
Randy C. Davis, president and executive director of the Tennessee Baptist Mission Board, met Palmer for the first time when he went to FBC, Morristown, in view of a call. Palmer was serving as interim pastor at the time. “In our first meeting he taught me the valuable lesson of just being who God shaped you to be, to be yourself.” Davis added that Palmer was the most disciplined and “put together” man he has ever known. He led “an incredibly influential life,” Davis added.
Walter Grubb, former president and now interim president of The King’s Academy, served for six years with Palmer. He called Palmer his “mentor and friend. I could always rely on him for biblical counsel in delicate situations,” Grubb recalled.
“His keen intellect was well balanced with love. Perhaps there were exceptions, but every time I heard him preach he recited his entire Scripture text from memory. And he cautioned all prospective employees, ‘You have to love young people to work here.’ ”
Palmer is survived by his wife of 74 years, Ellen Bourne Palmer, three children, four grandchildren and two great grandchildren.
Palmer was a member of First Baptist Church, Kingsport. The family asks that in lieu of flowers, memorials be made to the Capital Needs Fund of FBC, Kingsport, in his memory. A celebration of life service will be held for Palmer at later date. B&R