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Friends, colleagues and students celebrate life of associate MSU professor

By Katherine Mozzone, KTVM Reporter, kmozzone@ktvm.com
Published On: Sep 13 2013 06:39:30 PM MDT
BOZEMAN, Mont. -

Friends, colleagues and students gathered at Montana State University to remember an associate professor of education who died tragically in May. Betsy Palmer died from injuries sustained in a landslide while traveling with students in Nepal. Friday, those who knew her celebrated her life and her legacy.

"We lost one of the best as people go and as faculty members go. There are very few like her," says Palmer's student Cheri Johannes.

Students remember Betsy Palmer as someone who was always present and in the moment.

"Even if you interrupted something, she never made you feel like you weren't the most important thing at that moment," Johannes says.

Johannes tells us Palmer wasn't a teller, she was a teacher and always asked questions so, her students could find the best within themselves and others.

"I think that all of us walk away a better human being as a result of what she instilled in us," explains Johannes.

MSU faculty who worked with Palmer tell us she was brilliant, reliable and a great writer.

They explain Palmer was an excellent collaborator and worked well with all different types of people.

"She was just a lot of fun, too. That made the research projects even better because we had a good time," says Palmer's colleague Carolyn Plumb.

Those in the education department tell us she was a gifted teacher and a role model.

"A tremendous model of how to engage people in the learning process," says Palmer's colleague Jane Downey.

Downey is the education Department head and was a close friend of Palmer's.

"She had an incredible heart. She was kind and gracious to everyone she met and that's something I really admired about her," says Downey.

When we asked Downey if Palmer will have a lasting impact on the department, Downey explains she already has.

"There will be a lot of students that come through. They will hear of her and will benefit because of the influence that she's had on the rest of the faculty," Downey says.

When it comes to her life outside of work, Downey tells me, she had a joy for living. There was never an adventure Palmer didn't embrace.  

"Betsy lived life to the full and we're all the better for that," says Downey.

We asked the education dean whether or not the Nepal program Palmer was involved with would continue.

She tells us there have been conversations but no decision has been made.

There is a fund for Palmer's husband and children.

Contributions can be made at any First Interstate Bank location in Montana, Wyoming and South Dakota.