So might the first meeting of Mabel Sarah Heath and Bartlett
Joshua (B.J.) Palmer have transpired at the turn of the 20th century.
Mabel Heath became B.J. Palmer’s right hand and confidante, and earned the title First Lady of
Chiropractic. She was born in Milan, Ill., in 1881 and attended Augustana College in Rock Island,
Ill. Mabel met B.J. when she was an apprentice organist. They married in 1904. From the start she
was interested in B.J. and his father’s profession and passion: chiropractic. She earned her doctor
of chiropractic degree from D.D. and B.J. Palmer’s fledgling chiropractic school in 1905.
Mabel Heath Palmer, D.C., F.P.A.C., served as the Palmer School
of Chiropractic’s treasurer and business manager, continuing in
that role as the school prospered. Later she attended Rush Medical
College in Chicago, Ill., where she studied anatomy, and returned
to Palmer to take over teaching anatomy and dissection. She wrote
the first anatomy textbook for chiropractic students and was an
instructor at the Palmer School for more than 35 years.
A close and valued adviser to her husband, Dr. Mabel Palmer was a popular lecturer throughout the
chiropractic profession and a beloved anatomy teacher. She was one of a number of early women
graduates, many of whom practiced midwifery or another healing art, who were attracted by the idea
of natural health care centered on the spine and nervous system. With her intelligence, prominence
and quiet authority, she set the standard for women in chiropractic.
Palmer women follow in Mabel’s footsteps
Dr. Agnes Palmer
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., F.P.A.C., in
1943. An accomplished sculptor, Agnes Palmer, D.C., F.P.A.C., left a
legacy in chiropractic as well as the world. The busts of Dr. Dave
and Dr. Mabel Palmer found on Heritage Wall on Palmer’s Davenport,
Iowa, campus, were made by Dr. Agnes Palmer, and she was
invited to display her sculpture in a one-woman show at the Davenport
Art Gallery (now the Figge Art Museum). She served as the
Supreme Kiatrus of Sigma Phi Chi, the women’s professional sorority
founded by Dr. Mabel Palmer, from 1949 until her death in 1998.
Bonnie Palmer McCloskey
The three daughters of Drs. Dave and Agnes Palmer assumed the
mantle of leadership as well. Bonnie Palmer McCloskey, M.B.A., like her sisters Jenny Wren
Palmer Sutton, H.C.D.
(Hon.), and Vickie Anne
Palmer, H.C.D. (Hon.),
F.P.A.C., 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.
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, and currently is a trustee of
Sweet Briar College. 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.
Jenny Wren Palmer Sutton
Jenny Wren Palmer Sutton, H.C.D. (Hon.), 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. She also served
as vice president of the Palmer Broadcasting Company, the family’s
communications business. She was granted an honorary Doctor of
Chiropractic Humanities degree in 2016. Following in her father’s
footsteps as a philanthropist and arts supporter, she’s been involved
in numerous charitable endeavors.
Vickie Anne Palmer: A life dedicated to Palmer College
The youngest of Drs. Dave and Agnes
Palmer’s daughters, Vickie Anne Palmer,
H.C.D. (Hon.), F.P.A.C., has dedicated
her life to serving Palmer College and the
Known as The Refiner of Chiropractic, Vickie Anne
has built on her family’s heritage by continuing to
lead and refine the chiropractic mission they began. Like
her sisters, Vickie Palmer grew up on the Palmer campus,
serving in a variety of positions within the College.
She hasn’t stopped serving Palmer College since her childhood.
She attended Palmer Junior College and Marycrest
College before graduating from Sawyer Business College
and attending management courses at Drake University and
the University of Notre Dame. Vickie Palmer joined the
Palmer College Board of Trustees in 1978 and was elected
chairman in 1987, serving in that role until 2008. She currently
serves the Board as secretary general, a member of
the Executive Committee and co-chair of the Ad Hoc Identity
Committee. She’s a distinguished Fellow in the Palmer
Academy of Chiropractic, and in 1987 was granted an honorary
Doctor of Chiropractic Humanities degree.
During her 21-year tenure as chairman of the Palmer College
Board, Vickie Palmer was instrumental in developing
the Palmer College of Chiropractic system that includes
three campuses. She led the Palmer Board in facilitating the
growth, development and stabilization of Palmer’s West
campus in San Jose, Calif. She served as vice chairman of
Palmer’s West Campus Board of Trustees, and when the
Palmer Chiropractic University System was founded in
1991, she was named chairman of its Board. She also was
chairman of the Board during the preparatory work and establishment
of Palmer’s Florida campus in Port Orange,
Fla., in 2002.
Additionally, she was engaged with major facilities improvements
on the College’s Davenport campus, including upgrading
the David D. Palmer Health Sciences Library, building
the Palmer Academic Health Center (opened in 2007) and
the establishment of the Palmer Center for Chiropractic
Research and the Palmer Center for Business Development.