NewsPay It Forward


100-year-old using crocheting hobby to help area preschool

Posted at 3:30 PM, Feb 22, 2019
and last updated 2019-02-22 19:20:52-05

NEWAYGO, Mich. — Most days, you can find Erma Palmiter sitting quietly in her Newaygo home, her fingers nimbly crocheting item after item.

"Her typical day, which is everyday, she gets up about 9:30 a.m. to have breakfast and do her little morning routine," explained Erma's granddaughter Kristine Palmiter. "By 10:30 a.m., 10:45 a.m. she sits in her chair and crochets, and continues to crochet until about 7 o'clock at night."

At 100 years old, Erma Palmiter now relies on a magnifying glass to see her work, but her passion for crocheting is just as fresh as when she first picked up the hobby.

"I started crocheting when I was 12 years old," Erma Palmiter told FOX 17. "My mother taught me how to do it, and I started making things for her, and different people.

"She taught me how to quilt too, but I dropped that, it was more interesting to crochet."

For more than 40 years, Erma Palmiter wove together that hobby with another love: teaching. She taught kindergarten, first and second grades in Romulus. She would often crochet hats and other prizes to keep her young students engaged.

When she retired in 1981, Erma continued crocheting and began selling the many afghans, doilies and crocheted towels she would make.

But, she hasn't kept a dime of her profits. For 25 plus years, she has donated all the money to her church's preschool program at Christ Lutheran Church in White Cloud.

It's anyone's guess how much it all adds up to.

"Last year we turned in $5,000," Erma Palmiter said proudly. "I've already turned in $500 this year."

"They need some help paying the teacher, paying for the materials that they use to teach the children with ... I just like children, and the more anyone can educate them, get them going for the rest of their life, I'd like to help."

She buys all her own materials. Her creations have been sold across the U.S. and in a number of countries as well.

"Everybody, everybody and their brother knows who Erma Palmiter is from crocheting," said Kristine Palmiter. "It just seems like the more she does, the more people want to help, the more people want to buy, they want to contribute."

Erma Palmiter has created an extravagant "Fireman's Prayer" piece that hangs in the local fire department. She also crocheted a Declaration of Independence that she sent to the White House. President Donald Trump sent her a "thank you" note in return.

To mark her 100th birthday on Jan. 30, a number of Michigan lawmakers sent cards and birthday wishes. The mayor of Newaygo also issued a proclamation, marking the milestone.

Erma Palmiter doesn't plan to stop crocheting anytime soon. Maybe that's the secret to living to 100?

"I have no idea, just the Lord's blessing I guess," Erma said. "I just take my vitamins and do what the doctor tells me."

"We've been absolutely blessed to have her for all these years," said her youngest son Roger. "She's really an inspiration for a lot of people. She's just a joy to be around. And, she'll whoop you at the card table too," he joked.

As the FOX 17 and Lake Michigan Credit Union Pay it Forward Person of the Month, Palmiter is receiving a $300 prize.

Know someone who should be featured next month? Nominate them here.

Meet Shelby Lentz, our January Pay it Forward Person of the Month.