Obituary: Jessica Palmer-Nelson, chef, 29

Personal chef and active community volunteer Jessica Palmer-Nelson is being remembered by friends for her generosity, positivity and insatiable smile.

Palmer-Nelson died Oct. 13 at age 29. The cause of death has not yet been determined.

“I’ve never seen Jessica without a smile,” said friend Rochelle L. Johnson.

Johnson met Palmer-Nelson through their joint involvement with the Whosoever Metropolitan Community Church. Palmer-Nelson was a member of the church’s Women’s Group. 

The Northeast Philadelphia resident was also involved with SisterSpace, as both a planner and cook. She was a strong supporter of community events like the Dyke March, Trans* March and Philadelphia Trans Health Conference, as well as a donor to Philadelphia AIDS Thrift.

“She was just always around in the community, always everywhere,” Johnson said. “And she would greet everyone with a hug. She gave so much to me and to everyone else. Her life was just about giving.”

“She was very caring,” agreed friend Delena Williams. “She was bubbly and fun and smiles all the time; I never saw her stressed or angry. She was a bright light, happy, and enjoyed everyone and everything she did.”

Palmer-Nelson operated her own chef business, called Spices & Chocolate. 

According to the company’s online profile, she was raised by three generations of chefs, which inspired her culinary passion. Palmer-Nelson was a chef in the dining hall at Penn State University, where she studied biology and chemistry. She went on to serve as chef at Delilah’s Southern Cuisine at its Reading Terminal Market and Cheltenham locations.

Palmer-Nelson is survived by her mother, Marsha Palmer; father, Michael Nelson; brothers, Taurean and Darius Neslon; and many relatives and friends. 

A viewing will be held at noon Oct. 21 at University Lutheran Church, 3637 Chestnut St., followed by a service at 1 p.m.

Donations to assist with funeral arrangements can be made at and surplus funding will be donated to the White Dress Project, which supports fibroid research.