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Brien Palmer was active in Murrysville community

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By Daveen Rae Kurutz
Wednesday, March 20, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
 

Brien Palmer greeted everyone he met with a smile and a kind word.

“When you said, ‘Hi,' to him, that smile was always there,” Murrysville Council President Joan Kearns said. “He was always gentle, always polite and always to the point.”

Mr. Palmer, of Murrysville, died Friday from complications after surgery. He was 60.

While not a native — he grew up in Painesville, Ohio — he adopted Murrysville as home and served on numerous committees, commissions and groups to promote the unique qualities of the municipality.

“It wasn't just the trail alliance; it wasn't just the library,” said Jamie Falo, director of Murrysville Community Library. “It was the whole community he impacted.”

Falo first met Mr. Palmer not long after she took the helm at the library in 2011. He was the first donor with whom she met, as he was making a contribution on behalf of the Murrysville Trail Alliance. He was a regular at the library, she said, not only to donate books but as a facilitator for the Socrates Café, a monthly philosophy discussion group.

“Brien was so very pleasant and nice to work with — just such a nice guy,” Falo said. “He was so thoughtful and generous with his time and so dedicated to his community.”

As chairman of the Citizens for the Preservation of Rural Murrysville, Mr. Palmer often spoke about environmental concerns, particularly during debates regarding Marcellus shale drilling. He has sat on many municipal committees, including the library board and the comprehensive plan committee and Route 22 corridor task force.

He also was a member of the East Suburban Unitarian Universalist Church.

As vice chairman of the Murrysville Trail Alliance, Mr. Palmer sought to protect the environment of Murrysville. He also was a member of the Murrysville Stream Monitoring Group, which tests water quality in streams throughout the municipality.

Betsy Aiken, chairwoman of the trail alliance, called Mr. Palmer a strong advocate of trails.

“He was a steadfast supporter of green causes in Murrysville and an involved citizen who was deeply committed to our community.” Aiken said. “He was very unusual in the extent of his commitment and willingness to go to council and speak on issues.”

Mr. Palmer was no stranger to council, Kearns said. The owner of a management-consulting business, Mr. Palmer met with local officials regularly. Kearns said, at one point, he led a workshop to help council work together better — which was fitting, given that in 2003 he published “Making Change Work: Practical Tools for Overcoming Human Resistance to Change.”

Kearns recalled how Mr. Palmer enjoyed riding through the municipality on his motorcycle and enjoying the open space he often fought to protect.

“He could hardly wait for spring to ride his motorcycle — and he didn't look the motorcycle type,” she said. “It's a big hole he's left. He was one whose primary mission was to remind all of why we moved to Murrysville and what unique qualities there are in the community.”

Mr. Palmer is survived by his mother, Patricia, of Murrysville; his wife, Kate Codd-Palmer; and a daughter, Erin. He was preceded in death by his father. Willard Palmer.

Memorial contributions can be made to the Alzheimer's Foundation of America, 322 Eighth Ave., 7th Floor, New York, NY 10001.

Daveen Rae Kurutz is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-856-7400, ext. 8627, or dkurutz@tribweb.com.

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