Calhoun’s Mayor Jimmy Palmer has been serving the community for 14 years, but he has loved this place all his life.
“I don’t feel like the father of Calhoun by any means, I just want to serve the good people of this community. I care about Calhoun. This place is like family to me,” said Palmer.
Palmer grew up in the heart of Calhoun, Piedmont Street and Pisgah Way to be exact, son to Farrell and Henrietta Marshall Palmer.
Becoming a pharmacist like his father, owner and operator of Palmer Drug Company since 1950, wasn’t part of his original plan.
“I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do. I was kind of lazy, I guess, and not a good student. I thought I’d take the easy way out and my father did not approve of that. I ended up in Pharmacy school and liked it. I graduated from pharmacy school in 1967 and began working with my dad at Palmer Drug Company in 1967,” he said.
“I’ve always enjoyed working with family. Working with my father was a good thing. We never had a harsh word for each other. He was always there for me as a work colleague and father. We had a good relationship. I am so glad that I had the opportunity to work with him and share life with him. He died in 1999 and had been working up until about six months before he passed away. I remember sitting with him at the hospital and just talking about how good life had been. He was proud of me, and I know he was proud of my children.”
As for being a father, Palmer says, “The important thing for me is that my children know that I love them. I am always concerned how they conduct their life. I may have been too strict of a father when they were young, but they’ve turned out pretty great,” he laughed.
“I was fortunate that all four of my children have come back to live in the community. I am extremely pleased that they live here now. That they’d want to live here says a lot about this community. I didn’t get much time with my grand-babies until they moved back home and now spending time with my grandchildren is one of my favorite things to do. I am a family man. I love my family and they were all there for me during this time. Really they're always there for me. My daughter Michelle did so much for me as did Kevin, Christi and Tom. I am so proud of all my children,” Palmer said.
Palmer has been an active leader in the community most of his life. He served on the Calhoun City Board of Education for five years and as a Calhoun City Councilman for five years. Becoming Calhoun’s mayor, like becoming a pharmacist, wasn’t part of his original plan either. “I ran for Mayor when Johnny Meadows resigned and announced, “Jimmy’s running for Mayor.”
“I am proud of the accomplishments that have taken place over the years by past leadership in Calhoun. I’ve followed many mayors who have made the right decisions for Calhoun.”
As a father to the city: “Naturally you feel responsible for what goes on in the city. I have a great staff and community to work with. We get along well. At the same time I want to be thought of as a member of the community that people can talk to. I’ve lived all my life here. People who know me, know my family - they know I care.”
Recently, Palmer was diagnosed with a brain tumor. Rather than feeling discouraged, Palmer took this in stride and continued being as active as possible in the community and at home.
“I had been having some balance problems and had been to the doctor. It wasn’t high blood pressure. It wasn’t vertigo,” he said.
“My daughter-in-law suggested I get an MRI and I did. I had the MRI in January on of all days, Friday the 13th. That evening my son Tommy came to see me to tell me the bad news. I knew it wasn’t good. I had a Meningioma - a large tumor in my brain that was causing the problems and affecting my nervous system,” he said.
“I never thought about not making it. I tried to keep the negative possibilities out of my head. Attitude matters. I always approached it with a positive approach and tried to remember, ‘mind over matter.’”
“Tommy recommended a specialist in Cleveland, Ohio named Dr. Lee. He’s done a lot of successful work in this area and between Tommy’s recommendation and Dr. Lee’s experience I decided to take my chances having it removed. The surgery was on Valentine’s Day and I can barely remember much right after except - asking my wife Darlene - ‘is it over?’”
“Dr. Lee said that 90 percent of meningioma tumors were benign, which I realized are good odds - but I kept thinking, that’s only one in ten.”
“My tumor was benign but very large. He was able to remove 95 percent of the tumor and I spent 10 days in rehabilitation,” said Palmer.
Within a week of being home, Mayor Palmer was already spending some time at the office after hours, checking in and catching up on his duties.
“It felt good to be back. I’m not 100 percent, but I’m getting there,” he said.
As the healing process takes place, Palmer’s double vision and balance issues should subside.
“I really felt a positive change over the past week. I am so glad to be alive and on this end of the whole thing.”
“I’m very thankful especially for the prayers, the many cards and kind deeds that have been done on my behalf. Those things mean a lot to me, and I appreciate all the friendships,” Palmer said.
Until recovery is complete, Palmer will be taking it easy, but he does have plans with the grandchildren. “My four year old granddaughter is ready to learn golf, so for this Father’s Day all I want is to spend time with family and a toddler size golf set. I am so thankful for my family.”