Marina Palmer thought she was going to a meeting, but when she turned the corner, she saw two huge silver balloons – a 9 and a 0 – flanking the break room, as well as a crowd of coworkers from the HISD Human Resources Department.
“Surprise,” they yelled, as everyone captured her reaction on cell phones and cameras. Inside the break room was a big chocolate cake that said, “Happy 90th Birthday Mrs. Palmer,” a large bouquet of flowers, more balloons, presents, cookies, and other snacks.
“This is a complete surprise,” Palmer said, as they draped on her a ribbon that said “Birthday Girl!”
Palmer came to Texas 52 years ago with her husband, who was transferred to Houston with Columbia Gas System after working in Illinois, Kentucky, and Tennessee. He is still alive and well at 91, and the two still live in their home, which they share with one of their sons and a grandson.
Palmer started at HISD as a substitute teacher’s aide at various schools, followed by 27 years at Mark Twain ES, where she was the bookroom clerk and then school secretary. She has held a variety of positions in HISD administration and now works two days a week in Personnel Records.
Palmer has been with for HISD for 50 years, and she has no intention of stopping now.
“I wake up in the morning, and I think, ‘Yeah, I get to go to work today!’” Palmer said. “You have to stay active, or you go downhill fast.”