By Emmy Liederman
It didn’t take much to make Matt Palmer happy. His best friends will never forget one day in particular when he greeted them with an ear-to-ear grin on his face. They asked why he was smiling so hard, and his answer was simple — he had just gotten a haircut, and thought it looked pretty good.
“It took absolutely nothing to put a smile on his face,” said Jack McFarlane, a freshman economics major. “You would never know if he was having a bad day. There is no one else like Matt Palmer.”
Matthew Palmer, a freshman mechanical engineering major from Floral Park, N.Y., died suddenly at the age of 18 on Friday, Feb. 21. According to the Thomas F. Dalton Funeral Home website, his family is encouraging memorial contributions to the National Hemophilia Foundation of New York or the N.J. Sharing Network in his honor.
Palmer was an active member of Sigma Pi, leaving behind a group of fraternity brothers who are committed to keeping his memory alive. According to McFarlane, who is also a member, the organization will now focus its philanthropic efforts on raising money for those who suffer from hemophilia. The brothers are also working on creating a $1,000 scholarship, which would be awarded to a high school student from Palmer’s hometown that shares his passions.
Although Palmer formed many strong connections at the College, there was no one who knew him better than his two best friends, Jack and Chris.
“Through Sigma Pi, we have become the closest friends ever,” said Chris George, a freshman accounting major. “Matt was one of the toughest kids I knew, but also one of the kids with the biggest heart.”
About a week before Palmer died, McFarlane and George heard from a student on his floor that he was rushed to the hospital. After they could not get in contact with Palmer, they quickly reached out to his dad.
“His dad told us that Matt was in the hospital and that all they could ask for is that everyone prayed for him at that point,” McFarlane said. “Friday morning (Feb. 21) was when my president Zach Rollins and I got a text from his father saying Matt didn’t make it.”
Zach Rollins, a junior accounting major and president of Sigma Pi, asked The Signal to share his gratitude for all the organizations that have shown their support during this difficult time. As Rollins leads his fraternity through this period of grief, he is committed to remembering Palmer as a kid with an unwavering smile, always eager to lend a helping hand.
“He had this unique ability to never let life get him down, no matter what he was dealing with,” Rollins said. “It was impossible to keep a smile off your face when he entered the room, but if you did, he made sure to make you laugh so he wasn’t smiling alone. Palmer would never turn down an opportunity to lend a hand, whether it was helping a friend on his floor or fixing up the chapter house. Nothing made him happier than seeing those around him smile.”
After Palmer’s death, George and McFarlane spent the following days grieving at the fraternity house, where they felt an outpour of support and love from their brothers.
“Everyone was hurting, but the fraternity made a special effort to make sure Chris and I felt supported,” McFarlane said.
Although their parents asked George and McFarlane if they wanted to come home following Palmer’s death, the two could not imagine being anywhere but Ewing.
“The last thing I wanted to do was go home,” George said. “I just wanted to be here with my other family.”
In an effort to keep his best friend’s memory alive, McFarlane shared a message to all of those who may be affected by Palmer’s sudden death.
“For those who crossed paths with him, never forget that contagious smile,” he said. “For those who were fortunate enough to have him touch their hearts on a daily basis, never let the memories go.”