ENCINITAS — Edna Palmer, a food server and cafeteria manager at San Dieguito High School from 1954 to 1975, known for her sticky rolls and loved by thousands of school children, passed away June 4. She would have been 99 in August.“I ran into a girl who was a year behind me at San Dieguito High School, and her husband was a year ahead of me,” recalled Palmer’s daughter, Luanne Edwards, class of 1965. “She said, ‘Bobby always says, “I remember Mrs. Palmer. I always wanted to go through her line because she’d give me extra food.””
Edna Palmer and husband, Loren, later retired the same week in 1975.
“Afterwards I said, ‘You can either be a golf widow or play golf,’” Loren Palmer said. “She said, ‘I’ll play.’ Within six months she went to first flight (women’s).”
The Palmers also became regulars at the Encinitas Senior Center where Edna was a food service volunteer. Leah Robinson became a close friend.
“Edna’s sense of humor was really, really terrific,” Robinson said. “One of the things she laughed at through the years was her essential tremors. It got worse as the years went by. If we were serving peas, Joe (volunteer) would say, ‘Don’t let Edna serve the peas!’
“Later, after Edna retired (from her volunteer position) she would say, ‘Oh, we’re having peas today — it’s a good thing I’m not serving.’”
Edna Palmer was also known for her artistic centerpieces.
“She generously made and donated table decorations for the various holidays,” Encinitas Councilwoman Teresa Barth said. “I always enjoyed listening to Edna’s stories about the ‘old days’ in Encinitas. She will be missed.”
Edna Palmer grew up on a farm in Nebraska during the Depression. At 16, her parents encouraged her to leave home and fend for herself. She traveled to California with two girlfriends, initially getting a job as a grocery clerk in Modesto, earning 33 and 1/3 cents an hour, and subsequently becoming a licensed cosmetologist and hair stylist. In 1940, she met Loren Palmer at a dance in San Diego. He was in the Navy. They married the following year.
“I sent money home and she saved every damned cent,” he said. “That’s what we used to build our first house in Cardiff.”
They had two children, Larry and Luanne. Edwards remembers her mother being resourceful and an expert seamstress.
“When I was in high school, I’d show her a photo of an outfit in a magazine,” she said. “We would go to the fabric store and she would buy a couple of patterns and would make it look just like what I wanted.”
Later the family moved to Requeza Street where they had a small farm.
“My mother was always busy,” Edwards said. “She could milk a goat, kill a chicken and gut it for you. That’s what I remember about her.
“She was multi-talented and needed to be doing things for others. If you told her something in passing that was a problem in your life, she would help you solve it.”
Edwards remembers her mother singing Irish lullabies in a rocking chair to her, and later her grandchildren.
“When I was growing up, it seemed my sister and I spent every weekend at our grandparents’ house,” Chad Grimm recalled. “I have great memories of watching “Lawrence Welk” and the “Donny and Marie” show with them. She made their house warm and a special place for the whole family, from cooking our favorite meals to watching TV.”
When Edna Palmer developed essential tremors, she once again drew upon her problem-solving skills and invented a Trembler’s Table, U.S. Patent #6427607, a table support that steadies the hands. It is expected to go on sale at Target and CVS in a couple of months.
In addition to Loren, 100, Edna Palmer is survived by children Larry Palmer and Luanne Edwards; grandchildren Darcy Crane, Chad Grimm, Lance Palmer and Nathaniel Palmer; seven great-grandchildren; and a sister, Betty Johnson.
“Services are private and donations are discouraged,” son Larry Palmer wrote in her obituary. “Edna believed that ‘People should save their money for their old age — it could be long one.’”
For more information, see “Longtime Cardiff residents recall local history,” The Coast News, Aug. 3, 2011. http://thecoastnews.com/?p=44229