Noel Palmer, a former longtime Farmingdale State College administrator who ran a program that helped minorities and women get into college and launch careers, died Monday. He was 86.
The cause was a massive heart attack, his family said.
Palmer was vice president of the Urban Center at Farmingdale State College, a program that later became the current Long Island Educational Opportunity Center.
He is credited with helping hundreds of underserved young people academically prepare for college and careers in the 1970s and '80s.
"He showed the strength needed of a leader but was always sensitive to the needs of the students," said Frank Cipriani, the former college president who worked with him and maintained a 40-year friendship.
Palmer's daughter, Janet Palmer, 55, said her father inspired her to become a school psychologist and life coach.
"He had the ability to help people become all that they intended to be and could facilitate the process," she said. "He was a fabulous example."
Noel Palmer was a devoted Quaker, his family said. As a recorded minister of the Religious Society of Friends, Palmer published a book titled "Daily Notes to God: A Devotional Experience" in 1982, a compilation of the notes he wrote every morning for one year before beginning the work day.
The book was re-released last year, with a corresponding website, for its 20th anniversary.
In a 1999 Newsday story about the ritual of praying before dinner, Palmer talked about his views on faith.
"Quakers believe all days are holy days, all acts are sacraments, nature is a sanctuary and that God is present wherever we are, including in our food," he said. "So it's not just giving thanks for food, but for our very being."
Palmer was born Nov. 14, 1926, in Port Antonio, Jamaica, West Indies, to Ruth and Septimus Palmer, a Sunday school teacher and a carpenter/fisherman.
He attended the United Theological College of the West Indies before coming to the United States to attend Quaker-founded William Penn College, now William Penn University, in Iowa, in 1951. He continued on to Columbia University, where he received a bachelor's degree in education and a master's degree in guidance and personnel administration.
In 1959, he returned to Jamaica, where he became a high school teacher and then a superintendent of an all-boys school while also being a Quaker minister.
Seven years later, he and his wife, Daisy, returned to the United States, settling in their current home in Westbury, and he went to work at Farmingdale State College. He retired in 1991 as vice president of student affairs.
Palmer was a board member of the Westbury Friends School in Westbury and Friends Academy in Locust Valley. He also was a board member of WLIW/21 of the Public Broadcasting Service, president of the Half Hollow Hills Rotary Club and a member of the NAACP in Westbury.
A wake will be held from 7 to 9 p.m. Friday at Donohue-Cecere Funeral Home, 290 Post Ave., Westbury. Services are at 11 a.m. Saturday at Westbury Friends Monthly Meeting, with burial in the Westbury Friends Cemetery.
The family requests that donations in his honor be made to Westbury Friends Monthly Meeting and/or the Westbury Friends School.