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Juneau Ferry Terminal gets new name

Frank Palmer, iconic Juneau Trucker, to be honored

Posted: June 30, 2011 - 10:43pm

Juneau’s trucking community will gather Saturday at 11 a.m. to honor one of their own, Frank Palmer, with an appropriately unique way of remembering him.

The Alaska Legislature has named the Alaska Marine Highway’s Juneau terminal the Frank Palmer Auke Bay Ferry Terminal after Palmer, recognizing the longtime truck driver’s special talent.

“Ask anyone who was there and they’ll tell you Frank was, bar none, the best at flawlessly getting huge trailers on and off of our ferries,” said Sen. Dennis Egan, D-Juneau, who sponsored the bill. Rep. Beth Kerttula, D-Juneau, who co-sponsored the bill in the House, joined him.

The move got strong backing from the trucking industry, which chipped in to cover the cost of the new ferry terminal sign, which will be unveiled Saturday.

Arrowhead Transfer President Gordon Harang said his company and its people were “thrilled” to see Palmer honored at the terminal.

“I doubt if records have been kept, but it would be reasonable to assume that no one driver has ever or ever will move more equipment on to and off of Alaska Marine Highway System vessels than Frank,” Harang said.

Palmer’s special talent for skillfully maneuvering big loads in tight quarters was remembered by many, Egan said.

Lynden Transfer CEO Jim Jansen called Palmer a guy “who could thread a needle with a tractor trailer.”

Palmer began working for Lynden in 1962, when the Alaska Marine Highway System’s first vessels began operating from Prince Rupert, British Columbia, Canada.

“No one could match the expert driving ability that Frank had going on and off any ferry under the most adverse weather and technical conditions,” said Jim Weber, former Lynden agent in Juneau who wrote to Egan from Wasilla to endorse his bill.

Palmer also worked for Orme Transfer and was for many years an owner of Douglas Trucking.

In his years as a trucker, he not only loaded and unloaded his own loads, but those of anyone else who needed a hand.

Palmer died in 2010. He drowned while swimming in the ocean off Hawaii at the age of 69.

Palmer’s brother, Earl “Bosco” Palmer, called the Auke Bay terminal an appropriate location for Palmer to be remembered.

“The renaming of the ferry terminal in his name would be a great honor, and in many ways fitting as Frank grew up across from it,” he said.

Palmer was also known for helping out others elsewhere, including using his truck to pull folks out of snow banks, and coaching little league and American Legion baseball.

In 1958, Palmer was a member of the Juneau Crimson Bears’ state championship basketball team.

Egan’s bill naming the terminal after Palmer passed unanimously in both houses, and was signed into law by Gov. Sean Parnell last week.

• Contact reporter Pat Forgey at 523-2250 or at patrick.forgey@juneauempire.com.

What: Frank Palmer Ferry Terminal Dedication

When: 11 a.m.

Date: Saturday, July 2

Where: Alaska Marine Highway Auke Bay terminal

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