Robert B. Palmer

Born: January 29, 1940
Died: May 7, 2017

On May 7, Bob Palmer died of esophageal cancer at Beaumont Hospital in Bryn Mawr.

From the Philadelphia Inquirer: Bob joined PNB in 1964 after two years in the Army, which he continued to serve as a reservist in the Army’s 304th Civil Affairs Group. In order to get to his first interview, he hitchhiked from Pittsburgh, landed the job but had to borrow from his first paycheck to pay for lodgings. He was one of the first bank officers to go behind the Iron Curtain, arranging trade financing with foreign banks, including some in the former Soviet Bloc and Southeast Asia. After leading the bank’s consumer services, operations and data processing divisions as Vice President Bob took control at CoreStates Financial Corp. of corporate planning, communications and public responsibility. Five years later he became PNB’s Chief Executive Officer. In 1995, He retired as vice chairman but stayed active on the boards of Visa and Schramm Inc., a drilling equipment maker in West Chester.

In the volunteer arena, he was well-known as chairman of the World Affairs Council and the International Visitors Council, and vice chairman of the Police Athletic League of Philadelphia. In later years, he was a board member of Entrepreneur Works, a non-profit organization offering loans and guidance to small businesses in the city, especially those owned by women and minorities.

After Andover Academy at Yale Bob majored in American Studies, held a scholarship and roomed with Tuck McCintock, John Murphy, and R.H.Wendin in Timothy Dwight where he played football, touch football and swam. He was on the varsity lacrosse team and a member of DKE.

Bill Gross, who was a bank colleague wrote: “Very organized. Seemed that he kept file cards in his mind and would access them as he was talking and went through them point by point. He had an extraordinary memory for names and the associated family details and connections. Although he was at the top of the bank hierarchy, he never missed even stopping and talking with the guards and janitors.”

Tom Cutler was a fraternity brother and wrote: “Bob had a great sense of humor and a prodigious memory. He hosted annual gatherings of friends at his Sanibel Home., Andover friends some years and Yale friends other years), and at these gatherings, the conversation often was about sports and politics. In the area of sports, he was a fanatic about Pittsburgh teams and knew every stat there was to know about the Pirates, Steelers and Penguins. Happily, he was also a political liberal (as I am ) so I made sure I listened carefully to his comments on politics so that I could reword them when my turn came to speak. A wonderful friend from 1955 to three months ago. I miss him.”

Bob’s son, David W. wrote: “he made it up as he went along and had that human touch, so things just happened for him. He connected with people on their level. He remembered and knew something about even the smallest dogs in the machine. That made people like they were important.”

From the Inquirer: “Mr. Palmer was personable and considerate, with a knack for remembering customers’ names and family details. He cared about the careers and wellbeing of his colleagues and subordinates, many of whom praised his mentorship and leadership skills. He also cared deeply about issues such as income inequality, and worked to improve the prospects of many in the city’s underserved and marginalized neighborhoods.”

Bob was married to Caroline Cain in 1966. Before divorcing, the couple had their son David. W. He married Nancy Latimer in 1984, and he is survived by her and their children: Jeffrey H., Laura B., and Christopher M.; two grandchildren and a brother.

John Harger Stewart