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Norah Violet Palmer nee Gerard 1911-2009

Born: 27th of August 1911 in Grafton and died 2009.

Daughter of: of Walter Octavius Gerard and Anna Violet Gerard (nee Kearney).

Sister of:

  1. John Gerard.
  2. Caroline Woodford.
  3. Alice Pugh.
  4. George Gerard.

Norah married: Rev. Frederick Thomas Montgomery Palmer (1888-1975), in Grafton cathedral on the 26th of October 1931.  Frederick was the son of Frederick Thomas Palmer (1858-1890) and Edith Caroline Palmer nee Bull.

Frederick and Norah had issue:

  1. Ianthe Monica Asquith (nee Palmer, born 12 October 1932).
  2. Dara Gibbs (nee Palmer, born 13 February 1934 and died 7 December 2001).
  3. Freya Ferguson (nee Palmer, born 8 April 1935).
  4. Rosalind McLeod (nee Palmer, born 31 August 1938).
  5. Joseph (Joe) Gerard Palmer (born 27 February 1946).
  6. Primrose Nelson (nee Palmer, born 19 February 1948).

Norah Violet Palmer: An Overview


This was read at the funeral service for Norah Violet Palmer at Christ Church Cathedral Newcastle Australia, on 21st January 2009.



27TH AUG 1911 - 16TH JAN 2009

PAGE 1 read by Joe


Today we remember and give thanks to an Angel who came to earth to give life to my sisters and me, and show us how to live. Our dear mum Norah Violet Palmer, was born on 27th of August 1911 in Grafton.  Mum was the 3rd child of Walter and Anna Violet Gerard.  She was given an Irish name at the request of her grandfather Edward Kearney.  Mum grew up in a loving, exceptional family, which included her 2 brothers and 2 sisters, 2 cousins, her grandmother, and some uncles at various times.  The family lived at Carrs Creek from 1916 to 1923, just a bicycle ride from Grafton where Norah began piano lessons.  In 1923 they moved to Nana Glen where mum's father Walter had bought a dairy farm.  Mum continued with her music, eventually becoming a teacher herself.  All the children enjoyed a free, healthy and happy life while helping out on the farm.  This part of mum's life forever impressed upon her the value of a happy childhood.  Older brother Jack loved involving his sisters in his circus productions.  These shows were set up for local people who gladly paid to attend.  Norah was chosen to perform daredevil stunts such as walking the tightrope.  The main attraction was the "Fall from Heaven", in which she had to climb a tree and drop down a rope, trusting Jack to be at the other end of it.  During mum's final years of her education at Nana Glen school, she learnt water colour painting.  After leaving school, mum worked at the local post office and store.  Mum also played the piano in a dance band known as Cowlings Orchestra,  and played piano for silent movies when Penns Pictures on Tour traveled into town.


PAGE 2 read by Primrose


Other teenage activities were tennis,  trips to the beach at Coffs Harbour, and visits by train to relatives in Sydney and Bowral.  In 1931 mum met our father Fred Palmer, whose work as a minister in the Anglican Church brought him to Nana Glen.  They were married in Grafton cathedral on the 26th of October 1931.  The first year of their married life was spent in the small village of Rappville.  Here mum learnt to drink tea because the parish ladies were giving her funny looks when she would tell them she didn't drink it.  It was the time of the Great Depression, and Rappville was one of the places where men out of work would "jump the rattler"- which meant jumping from the train to look for work. On one occasion, mum was making a sandwich for one man at the front door while another was waiting at the back door - a frightening experience for a young woman alone at home at the time.  Mum was glad to leave there for the next parish of Nimbin, a beautiful rural district.  During their time at Nimbin, 4 daughters were born, Ianthe 1932, Dara 1934, Freya 1935, and Rosalind 1938.  Mum combined caring for her small children with parish duties, and supported the war effort by playing piano for dances.  The next parish was Gundy and 3 years were spent there.  The family then moved to Nabiac which became home from 1945 to 1952.  These happier years were notable for the birth of Joseph, born 1946 at Nabiac, and Primrose, born 1948 at Taree.  There were camping holidays at Blackhead beach and trips to Nana Glen to visit mums mother and sister on the family farm.  The next move was to Clarencetown 1952 to 1961.  As a Sunday school teacher, mum organized wonderful Sunday school concerts which were enjoyed by all the community - standing room only.  Mum also continued as church organist.


PAGE 3 read by Joe


Mum always assisted dad in his ministry, always ready to lend a listening ear to those who needed it, and kept many family secrets to herself.  On the home front, mum kept chooks for eggs and had a jersey cow which she milked daily, and this kept the family in milk, cream and freshly made butter.  There were many beautiful aromas from mum's wood stove, which could only mean another batch of cakes, biscuits or scones.  These were not only to feed the family, but also for the many visitors and parish events.  Of course in order to make the stove work it needed wood, and so did the copper, the bathroom chip heater and the fireplace.  Mum often chopped wood in those days.  In 1961, after dad's retirement, the family moved to the old St Pauls rectory in Maitland.  Mum helped with the financial situation by playing piano for weddings and dances.  This was a part of mum's life that she enjoyed very much.  She loved being involved in the happiness and glamour of these occasions.  She continued to play the organ for church services, and loved practicing on the piano at home when she had time.  By now, grandchildren were beginning to arrive.  Finally the permanent family home was purchased at Kahibah in 1968.  The next 30 years were to be very happy and fulfilling years for mum.  She set about creating a beautiful garden, something she had always done wherever she lived.  The bush behind the house made a peaceful backdrop and the garden became the scene of family gatherings every week.  Mum continued to travel to Maitland for weddings and dances.  Mum arrived back by train from one of these jobs late in the night of the Signa storm in 1974. There were no buses but somehow she found a taxi.  When she arrived home through the debris to 13 Aveley street, the driver said he would not have brought mum home if he had known she lived at number 13.  After that, if mum needed a taxi she said she never told the driver it was number 13 until she arrived.  Mum joined the Kahibah tennis ladies, and rode her bike wherever she needed to go.


PAGE 4 read by Primrose


Meanwhile dad's health was failing and mum did a wonderful job of caring for him mostly at home for 2 years, until he passed away in 1975.  Mum began to travel.  Her first trip was to New Zealand where she walked the Milford track. Trips both overseas and within Australia followed, mostly accompanied by her sister Alice, or one of her children.  At the age of 70 mum traveled to Nepal with Joe and completed a trek, where she remarkably walked to the border of Tibet and back.  She always remembered this as a special achievement.  In 2001 mum was dealt a sad blow with the loss of her beautiful daughter Dara, and had to call on all her strength to cope with it.  Mum continued to be delighted with an ever increasing number of grandchildren and great grandchildren.  By her 97th birthday she had 21 grandchildren and 48 great grandchildren. Adding to this her 6 children makes a total of 75 decendents.  Towards the end of her life mum's greatest joy was to see the faces of her great grandchildren, and enjoy looking at vases of flowers from her garden.  Now when we think of mum we think of sunshine, beautiful flowers, music, and the laughter of children.  Mum indeed had wonderful qualities, but the quality that mum admired most in others was reliability.  It is extraordinary to think back and realize that we cannot remember mum having ever asked us to do anything for her.  It was a pleasure to wonder what would make her happy and do something for her.  It is a sad thing that at the end of a long life, we are not always able to pass on anything that we have learnt over that lifetime.  We cannot presume to speak with authority about what mum would like to tell us, but it would be safe to say that mum would like us to love each other in perfect harmony.


PAGE 5 read by Joe


All her life mum had a special understanding of the nature of true and pure love.  The special love that is always unconditional.  To quote from Corinthians, Love is patient and kind.  Love envies no one, is never boastful, never conceited, never rude; love is never selfish, never quick to take offence.  Love keeps no score of wrongs, takes no pleasure in the sins of others, but delights in the truth.  There is nothing love cannot face; there is no limit to its faith, its hope, its endurance.  Mum possessed and lived all those qualities.  To us, she was like an angel that walked the earth.  Mum passed away peacefully at home, surrounded by her loving family, last Friday the 16th January.  The angels in heaven are welcoming her with open arms.  To quote again from mum's favourite part of the Bible in Corinthians.  There are three things which last forever: faith, hope, and love; and the greatest of the three is love.




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