Win Palmer, 65, legendary high-school athletic director, coach, teacher, father, and husband, died of cardiovascular complications on August 31 at Allegheny General Hospital, in Pittsburgh, PA.
Win was born to Don and Betty Palmer in Athens, Greece, where his father was stationed as an economist for the U.S. State Department. Win grew up in Chevy Chase, MD, in a loving, very sports-minded, and competitive family. He quickly established himself as the athletic star – “The Natural” – of the family. Win could have played small-college basketball, but in a fateful move, chose to attend Notre Dame (B.S. Business, 1980). There he served as Head Manager of the Fighting Irish basketball team under famed coach Digger Phelps, who played a pivotal role in Win taking a job right out of college as an Asst. Basketball Coach at St. Stephens, in Virginia. The very next year he became Head Coach, launching his long and storied career as a basketball coach and athletic director at St. Stephens (9 years), Flint Hill (Virginia, 11 years), and, for the past 23 years, Sewickley Academy, in Pennsylvania.
As a coach, Win motivated countless student-athletes and led his basketball teams to a combined 674 wins, including four state titles in Virginia and two in Pennsylvania. He was twice named Basketball Coach of the Year by The Washington Post and twice named Pennsylvania Coach of the Year. Win was also a renowned coach of boys golf and girls softball and basketball.
During his tenure as athletic director, Win mentored thousands of students and coaches. He challenged them to meet the highest standards in excellence, integrity, teamwork, and sportsmanship, qualities that he so deeply embodied and modeled.
Win’s legions of students, their parents, and fellow coaches remember him as “as genuine a person you could ever come across, and always in your corner to lend a helping hand,” as a “gentleman’s gentleman…a great coach…a beautiful person,” and as someone whose “players just loved him” and who had “such a big heart”. They also remember him for his charm, infectious laugh, and great sense of humor.
Win was a devoted husband and father. Coaching his own sons in high-school basketball was one of the great thrills of his life. When he wasn’t on the court, he could be found cheering on the Red Sox, golfing, and enjoying a good slice of pizza.
Win Palmer is survived by his sons Matthew Palmer (Nina Palmer) of Philadelphia, PA, and Tyler Palmer (Melissa Palmer) of Charlotte, NC; and two siblings, Julie Palmer of Brookline, MA and Jeff Palmer (Mimi Zolan) of Bloomington, IN. He is also survived by many loving nieces, nephews, in-laws, cousins, and friends. He was predeceased by his beloved wife of 35 years, Dawn Nicholson Palmer, and his sister, Beth Palmer.
A celebration of life will be held on Saturday, September 16th, at 1:00 PM at Sewickley Academy, 315 Academy Avenue, Sewickley, PA 15143. In lieu of flowers, the family asks for any donations to be made to Gear Up Segou, a charity that was dear to Win.
A second celebration of life will be held on Saturday, October 7, 2023 at St. Stephens & St. Agnes School in the Center for Performing Arts starting at 2pm.
Arrangements entrusted to WILLIAM SLATER II FUNERAL SERVICE, Scott Twp. (412-563-2800).
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