By Al Zehnder, CEO of Zehnder’s of Frankenmuth
When Walter and Maria Palmer came to Frankenmuth in the early 1970’s, they were in search of a community in which they could establish a lodging business. They were introduced to Wally Bronner and eventually purchased a piece of property from him on the south side of Frankenmuth, just north of the famous Bronner’s Christmas Wonderland.
The Palmer’s were both from Germany and their business, The Bavarian Haus Motel; was modeled after the architecture of their native homeland. The business flourished and Mr. and Mrs. Palmer were continuous and generous supporters of their adopted community. Zehnder’s of Frankenmuth purchased their business in 1988. During their subsequent retirement, the Palmers, through their foundation; provided over $1.2 million in funding for various projects within the community, i.e., community holiday decorations, scouting, school music programs, Gunzenhausen Park and fountain and our summer community concert venue, The Palmer Schau Platz.
One project the Palmers were always interested in, but couldn’t complete during their lifetime; was a welcoming arch or gateway into Frankenmuth from the south.
After their passing, the Palmer Foundation was made part of the Frankenmuth Community Foundation as a donor-advised fund. As a donor-advised fund, the Palmer Foundation Fund supported in full, the construction and perpetual maintenance of the Palmer Gateway Arch. Slated to be completed by mid-October the Palmer Gateway Arch will not only provide a grand entrance to Frankenmuth, but will stand as a lasting tribute to the love and support Walter and Maria Palmer had for their community.
I wish they could be here with all of us to enjoy this special addition to our community.
Al Zehnder, CEO of Zehnder’s of Frankenmuth