Friday, November 5, 2021

The Continuing Relevance of My Friend Billy Palmer's Commencement Address

Some of you know that many of my closest lifelong friends are former Gaston Day classmates from my years here as a student. Dolph and Liz Sumner, Gene Matthews, and Pam and Andy Warlick were all classmates. Bill Palmer and Walter Gayle were a year ahead of me. After Gaston Day, Bill Palmer graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Campbell University Law School, and then was one of two attorneys who established the respected Charlotte law firm of Kirk, Palmer, and Thigpen. Bill died too early several years ago from brain cancer. He was universally respected and admired in the Charlotte legal community and among his wide circle of friends and acquaintances. Those of us who knew and loved Bill still miss him dearly. But we also celebrate his good influence on our lives and how much his friendship meant to us. 

Recently, Bill's son Reid was cleaning out his father's papers and found a copy of Bill's 1974 Gaston Day School Commencement Speech which he made as class president. Reid sent me a copy. Reading it was very moving. But I was also struck by how so much of Bill's description of Gaston Day's exceptional quality in those first years remains true today. I am sharing the address with you in the hope that you find the remarks of such a fine man and his insights into the value of Gaston Day education just as relevant today as they were then. CLICK HERE

On a lighter note, Bill's commencement address mentions the serious financial contribution--$35.00--that each member of the junior class was expected to make toward the cost of the Junior-Senior prom. Even adjusting for inflation, costs have definitely skyrocketed!!