Shade Joseph Palmer, an ordinary man who did extraordinary things, a retired educator and longtime resident of Williamsburg, Virginia, born on September 18, 1931, answered his Heavenly Father’s gentle whisper peacefully at home in the wee hours of the morning on Saturday, November 6, 2021. One of nine, Shade was the sixth child born to the late Victor Lewis Palmer (1887- 1942) and Lovie Chatman Palmer (1900 – 2005) of Hallsboro, North Carolina.
Shade grew up in Hallsboro, North Carolina. He attended Artesia School and Farmers Union Negro High School. After graduating from high school, Shade planned to enter college immediately. However, he had to defer that plan because he was drafted into the United States Army. Shade received his basic training at Fort Bliss in Texas. He served his tour of duty, during the Korean War from 1952 to 1954, in Anchorage, Alaska. While in the Army, Shade sent his mom half of his $75.00 monthly pay to cover the tuition for a sister who was attending Fayetteville State Teachers College. Upon his discharge from the Army, Shade also enrolled in Fayetteville State Teachers College where he earned a bachelor’s degree in science in 1958. He was awarded a master’s degree in education by Columbia University in New York, New York. Additionally, in 1975, Shade earned a second master’s degree in education with a concentration in educational leadership at William and Mary University in Williamsburg, Virginia.
Shade J. Palmer enjoyed a long and distinguished career in education as a member of the Williamsburg-James City County Public School System moving up from teacher to principal. During his career as an educator, Mr. Palmer lovingly touched the lives of numerous students, colleagues, and parents of the children he taught. He cherished his work in the school system because it was a labor of love for him from day one until his retirement. Shade began teaching seventh grade at Bruton Heights School, the school for the local Negro children, in the fall of 1958. He was proud to be involved in the integration of Berkeley High School in January 1966. While teaching, Shade Palmer made sure his young students were exposed to history by taking them on trips to cities like Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to see the Liberty Bell and the first American flag made by Betsy Ross. In addition, in 1964, he took a group of students to the World’s Fair in New York City. He also served as assistant principal at Berkeley Middle School. He ended his formal career in education as the principal of James Blair Intermediate School. Shade Palmer was very honored to be one of the first black principals of an integrated school in the district. He retired in 1990. Cognizant of the personal and societal benefits of a quality education, he remained steadfast in his commitment to ensure that all children received a quality education until his death.
While teaching at Bruton Heights, Shade met and began dating an English and drama teacher named Carletha “Ran” Ransome from Crewe, Virginia. Shade and Ran married on January 2, 1965. They shared forty-seven wonderful years together. Ran died on November 20, 2012, just a mere ten days before her 90th birthday.
Growing up in Hallsboro, North Carolina Shade accepted Christ at an early age. He joined and attended New Light Missionary Baptist Church in Hallsboro until he entered the U.S. Army. When he relocated to Williamsburg, he immediately joined First Baptist Church. He was a very faithful member of First Baptist Church until illness forced him to reduce his engagement in church activities. While active in First Baptist Church, he was a member of the Men’s Fellowship, served on the Trustee Board for many years, served on the Finance Committee, and also chaired the Marie E. Sheppard Fund. Homebound during the pandemic, Shade enjoyed participating in weekly church services via Zoom.
Shade was actively involved in several local community organizations including Williamsburg Men’s Club and the Retired Teachers Club. He was a life member of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). Shade was a member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity. He was also a member of Maceo Consolidated Masonic Lodge #124, Prince Hall Affiliated in Williamsburg. Shade Palmer received many awards and accolades for his professional and community service including but not limited to Emeritus Member – Williamsburg Men’s Club, First Baptist Church Men’s Club, and a 10-year service award as principal of James Blair Intermediate School.
Shade’s hobbies included bowling, dancing, golfing, fishing, entertaining, playing cards, watching westerns, and traveling with his wife, family, and friends. Shade shared his love of bowling with the parishioners of First Baptist Church. He taught many members to bowl and often organized bowling games for the church members. His favorite card game was Pinochle. For many years, Ran and Shade played Pinochle with a couples group monthly, fondly known as the “Saturday Evening Club.”
Shade was preceded in death by his parents, Victor James, and Lovie Chatman Palmer; his wife, Carletha “Ran” Ransome Palmer; and his eight siblings: three brothers, James Chatman, Charles, and Lewis Palmer; and five sisters, Titia Palmer Boone, Louvenia Palmer Robinson-Browne, Mary Palmer Godwin, Maggie Palmer McNair, and Lindy Marie Palmer.
Shade Joseph Palmer, “Uncle Shade,” leaves to cherish his memories and celebrate his life, his brother-in-law, David Ransome in Baltimore, Maryland; his sister-in-law, Bessie Ransome in Farmville, Virginia; his beloved nieces and nephews in both the Palmer and Ransome families; Tabitha “Tibby” Brown Kinard and her husband Bobby – his loving and faithful caregivers; as well as a host of extended family, friends, and colleagues.
A Celebration of Life service will be held at 11:00 a.m. Friday, November 19, 2021, at Williamsburg Community Chapel. Livestream will be available at the start of this service. Interment to follow in Mt. Pleasant Baptist Church Cemetery. Mr. Palmer may be viewed from 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. Thursday, with Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Omega service starting at 6:30 p.m. in Whiting's Funeral Home. Facial coverings are required at all services.
Professional services entrusted to the staff of Whiting's Funeral Home, 7005 Pocahontas Trail, Williamsburg, Virginia 23185. 757-229-3011 whitingsfuneralhome.com