Shirley Jean (Hoggatt) Palmer passed into the loving arms of Jesus on March 28, 2023. She was born January 26, 1943, in Fort Scott, Kansas. Her parents were Fred (Tony) and Verna (Ater) Hoggatt. She grew up in Garland, Kansas, and attended the one-room Clarksburg Rural School from kindergarten through the eighth grade with her mother being her teacher. During her youth, Shirley was actively involved in 4-H especially showing Angus beef cattle and cooking. She graduated from Fort Scott High School in 1961, Fort Scott Junior College in 1963, and from Kansas State College of Pittsburg with a B.S. in Elementary Education degree in 1965, a Masters Degree in Education in 1971, and an Education Specialists Degree in School Administration from Pittsburg State University in 1979.
Shirley married Ron Palmer on June 2, 1963. They have two sons, Brian and wife Carla Palmer and Gary and wife Kylene Palmer. She also enjoyed her grandchildren: John and wife Katelyn, Elizabeth and husband Elijah, Sadie, Lexi, Riley, and Jentry. She cherished all family time together.
Shirley taught nearly 40 years as a second-grade teacher in Leavenworth and Fort Scott, Kansas. She was named Kansas Teacher of the Year in 1982 and was inducted into the Kansas Teachers’ Hall of Fame in 2002. Shirley served as the first ever female Student Body President of Fort Scott Junior College in 1963. Shirley was named Fort Scott Community College Outstanding Alum in 1987 and Pittsburg State University Outstanding Alum in 2016. She served as both a member and President of the Alumni Associations for both the Fort Scott Community College and Pittsburg State University. She was appointed by then Kansas Governor, Mike Hayden, to the Advisory Council of Community Colleges during 1989-1993 and she served seven years on the Kansas Board of Regents from 1987-1993 overseeing the state colleges including Chair of the Board in 1993.
Shirley was also very active in her community and held memberships in many civic organizations. She served many years as a Democratic Precinct Committee Person and was elected to two terms as Kansas State Representative for the Fourth District of Kansas from 2006-2010. Other organizations included Fort Scott Rotary, Delta Kappa Gamma now called AWE, American Association of University Women, Progressive Mother’s Club, Retired Teachers, Family Consumer Education, Fort Scott Area Chamber of Commerce, Fort Scott Area Community Foundation, the Bourbon County Fair Board, and she served 30 years volunteering as a county-wide 4-H leader in Horticulture. She was also a Mercy Hospital Auxiliary volunteer for many years. Shirley was an active member of the Order of the Eastern Star of Kansas for over 60 years and served as the Worthy Grand Matron from 1998-1999.
Shirley lived on a farm with Ron southwest of Fort Scott. They were small business owners together in Fort Scott. Her hobbies included gardening, entertaining, baking, canning, competing at the Bourbon County Fair, playing the accordion and piano, and spending time with family and friends. Shirley often won awards for her homemade pies of various flavors, with her Cherry Pie earning top awards.
Throughout her life Shirley’s strong faith in God and love for Jesus motivated her to serve Him and others. She was a member of the First Baptist Church of Fort Scott where she served on many committees including Chair of the Christian Board of Education and was a pianist for several years.
Shirley was a dearly loved wife, mother, grandmother, great-grandmother-to-be, sister-in-law, and friend to many people. As a friend described her, she was “dedicated, smart, talented, and caring. Irreplaceable.” She will be truly missed and her impact on our lives will only be fully known someday in heaven.
Shirley was preceded in death by her parents, Fred and Verna Hoggatt. She is survived by her husband Ron Palmer of the home in Fort Scott, Brian and Carla Palmer of Olathe, Gary and Kylene, Sadie, Lexi, Riley and Jentry of Fort Scott, John and Katelyn Palmer of Lenexa, and Elizabeth and Elijah Vandepol of Spring Hill, Kansas.
Funeral services will be held at 10:30 AM Friday, April 7th, at the First Baptist Church in Fort Scott.
Burial will follow in the Clarksburg Cemetery.
The family will receive friends from 5:00 until 7:00 PM Thursday at the Cheney Witt Chapel with the Order of Eastern Star service beginning at 6:00 PM.
Memorials are suggested to either the First Baptist Church of Fort Scott, the Ron & Shirley Palmer Scholarship Fund at Fort Scott Community College, or to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society for cancer research and may be left in care of the Cheney Witt Chapel, PO Box 347, 201 S. Main St., Fort Scott, Kansas 66701. Words of remembrance may be submitted to the online guestbook at cheneywitt.com.