The Palmer Family

In many ways, the history of chiropractic is the story of four generations of Palmers.

  • First Generation: Daniel David Palmer, usually called D.D.
  • Second Generation: D.D.’s his son, Bartlett Joshua Palmer, D.C., called B.J., and B.J.’s wife, Mabel Heath Palmer, D.C.
  • Third Generation: B.J. and Mabel’s son, David D. Palmer, D.C., often called Dr. Dave, and his wife, Agnes Mae High Palmer, D.C.
  • Fourth Generation: Dave and Agnes’s daughters, Bonnie Palmer McCloskey, Jenny Wren Palmer Sutton, H.C.D. (Hon.), and Vickie Anne Palmer, H.C.D. (Hon.). Each of the Palmer daughters has served the College and Board of Trustees in various roles. Vickie Anne Palmer has devoted her life to Palmer College, serving 21 years as chairman of the Palmer College Board of Trustees. She continues to serve the Board as secretary general and as a member of the Executive Committee.

The Palmer Family

D.D. Palmer

Known as The Discoverer of Chiropractic and as The Founder of the chiropractic profession and Palmer College of Chiropractic, Daniel David (D.D.) Palmer performed the first chiropractic adjustment on Sept. 18, 1895, in Davenport, Iowa. He founded Palmer School and Cure (now Palmer College of Chiropractic) in Davenport in 1897 and died in 1913. He was posthumously named a distinguished Fellow in the Palmer Academy of Chiropractic in 2006.

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B.J. Palmer, D.C.

Bartlett Joshua (B.J.) Palmer, D.C., the son of D.D. Palmer, is known as The Developer of Chiropractic. He became the dominant force in chiropractic after D.D.’s death in 1913 and is recognized for his work in bringing chiropractic to prominence in health care. He’s also remembered for developing chiropractic X-ray techniques and pioneering research projects, his humorous and pointed epigrams about chiropractic and life, and for running the Palmer School of Chiropractic until his death in 1961. He was posthumously named a distinguished Fellow in the Palmer Academy of Chiropractic in 2006.

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Mabel Heath Palmer, D.C.

Known as The First Lady of Chiropractic, Mabel Sarah Heath was born in Milan, Ill., and married Dr. B.J. Palmer in 1904. After graduating from Palmer, she studied anatomy, wrote a textbook on the subject, and taught anatomy at Palmer for more than 35 years. She died in 1949. She was posthumously named a distinguished Fellow in the Palmer Academy of Chiropractic in 2006.

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David Daniel Palmer, D.C.

Referred to as The Educator of Chiropractic, David D. Palmer, D.C., was the son of Drs. B.J. and Mabel Heath Palmer. Born on the Palmer campus and raised among the faculty and students, Dr. Dave, as he was called, became president of Palmer in 1961. Dr. Dave graduated from the prestigious Wharton School of Finance & Commerce at the University of Pennsylvania in 1929. While at the Wharton School he focused on business, law and economics. He went on to attain his doctor of chiropractic degree from Palmer in 1938.

He’s recognized for changing the name of Palmer School of Chiropractic to Palmer College of Chiropractic, and for establishing Palmer’s first Alumni Department, under which he developed the Palmer College of Chiropractic International Alumni Association. He’s also recognized for making significant progress toward official accreditation, establishing non-profit status for the College, and for modernizing the campus. Dr. Dave was a broadcasting pioneer and served as President of Palmer Broadcasting. He died in 1978. He was posthumously named a distinguished Fellow in the Palmer Academy of Chiropractic in 2006.

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Agnes Mae High Palmer, D.C.

Agnes Mae High was born in Pennsylvania and graduated from the Palmer School of Chiropractic in 1938. She practiced in Chester County, Pa., before marrying David D. Palmer, D.C., in 1943. An accomplished sculptor, Dr. Agnes Palmer left a legacy in chiropractic as well as in the art world. She was named a distinguished Fellow in the Palmer Academy of Chiropractic in 1997.

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Bonnie Palmer McCloskey

Bonnie Palmer McCloskey is the great-granddaughter of the chiropractic profession’s founder D.D. Palmer, and the daughter of Drs. David and Agnes Palmer. Like her sisters, Jenny Wren Palmer Sutton, H.C.D. (Hon.), and Vickie Anne Palmer, H.C.D. (Hon.), she grew up on the Palmer campus. She served on the College Board of Trustees from 1980 to 1984, and also served as vice president of the Palmer Broadcasting Company, the family’s communication business. As vice president of Palmer Broadcasting, she continued to add TV stations and eventually went into the cellular communication markets, changing the name to Palmer Communications.

Ms. McCloskey is a partner in Cornerstone Holdings, LLC. She has extensive experience with civic groups, having served as director or trustee for 16 organizations. Ms. McCloskey served as a trustee to The Nature Conservancy of Hawaii and is a trustee of Sweet Briar College. She’s a founding member and past chairman of the Aspen Center for Integral Health, a founder/co-president of the Roaring Fork Friends of the Women’s Foundation of Colorado, and a board member of the Women’s Foundation of Colorado. She holds a bachelor’s degree from Sweet Briar College as well as an M.B.A. from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.

Additionally, she and her sisters carry on their mother’s love of Sigma Phi Chi, a professional sorority founded by their grandmother, Mabel Heath Palmer, D.C., by ensuring the sorority’s building is maintained.

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Jenny Wren Palmer Sutton, H.C.D. (Hon.)

Jenny Wren Palmer Sutton is the great-granddaughter of the chiropractic profession’s founder D.D. Palmer, and the daughter of Drs. David and Agnes Palmer. Like her sisters, Bonnie Palmer McCloskey and Vickie Anne Palmer, H.C.D. (Hon.), she grew up on the Palmer campus and has served the College and Board of Trustees in various roles.

Ms. Palmer Sutton received her Bachelor of Arts degree from Briar Cliff College in Briar Cliff Manor, N.Y. She served on the Palmer College of Chiropractic Board of Trustees from 1980 to 1992. She was chairman of its Nominating Committee and was involved with the acquisition of Palmer West. At the same time, she served as vice president of the Palmer Broadcasting Company, the family’s communications business. As vice president of Palmer Broadcasting, she continued to add TV stations and eventually went into the cellular communication markets, changing the name to Palmer Communications. She was granted an honorary Doctor of Chiropractic Humanities degree on Feb. 27, 2016.

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Vickie Anne Palmer, H.C.D. (Hon.) FPAC

Known as The Refiner of Chiropractic, Vickie Anne Palmer, H.C.D. (Hon.), has built on her family heritage by providing leadership to the chiropractic mission. Like her sisters, Bonnie Palmer McCloskey and Jenny Wren Palmer Sutton, H.C.D. (Hon.), Vickie Anne Palmer grew up on the Palmer campus and has served the College and Board of Trustees in various roles.

She joined the Palmer College Board of Trustees in 1978 and was elected chairman in 1987. As Board chairman, she was instrumental in developing the concept of Palmer’s multi-campus system, which today includes three campuses. In 2008, she officially concluded her 21-year tenure as chairman, though she continues to serve on the Board as secretary general and as a member of the Executive Committee. She’s a distinguished Fellow in the Palmer Academy of Chiropractic and in 1987 was granted an honorary Doctor of Chiropractic Humanities degree.

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