W. I. 'Bob' Palmer

Posted: Sunday, October 31, 2004

Juneau resident W. I. "Bob" Palmer, 78, died at home on Oct. 25, 2004.

He was born in Hutchinson, Kansas, to Irl and Ola Palmer on Aug. 7, 1926.

He homesteaded in Alaska in 1948 after finishing a time in the Navy and getting a degree in zoology at the University of Michigan. He later attended the University of Alaska to receive his master' degrees in administration. During those early years on the homestead, he taught agriculture for the University Extension Service, he taught grade school in the Ninilchilk School District, and he became a commercial fisherman in Cook Inlet and then Bristol Bay. He also farmed his 160-acre homestead and a 77-acre farm in the Missouri Ozarks.

He was elected to the Alaska Senate in 1966, only to resign in 1974 so he could manage Jay Hammond's first campaign for governor. When Hammond won the election, Bob joined him in Juneau, first as chief of staff and then as special projects coordinator. During his time as senator and in the governor's office, Bob introduced the Mom and Pop Salmon Hatchery Program and worked to develop a productive farming program for Alaska.

In 1985, Bob became Peace Corps director of Tanzania. After serving there, Bob built a house in Costa Rica, where he and his wife lived for six years. His family said, "Bob loved people all of his life and was always ready with a smile and a kind word." He loved adventure, whether it was sliding down a hill in Ninilchik with his sixth-grade class or snorkeling after lobster in Mexico. He lived life to the fullest and treasured every minute, his family said.

He is preceded in death by his parents, his sister and her husband.

He is survived by his wife, Virginia Palmer; seven children by a first marriage, David (Tresa) Palmer, Kathy Palmer, Steven (Holly) Palmer, James Palmer, Sandy Allendorph, Cindy (Brian) Leong, and Irl Palmer; stepchildren Peter Jurasz and Susan (Brian O'Callaghan) Jurasz; grandchildren Amy (Darin Nadler), Becky, Tarah (Cody Park), Nathan, James, Ashley, Daniel, Brigette, Dawson and Ryian, and great-grandchild, Jordon. He is also survived by his brother, Irl (Betty) Palmer of Bella Vista, Ark.; his first wife, Sue Palmer of Boulder, Colo., and many nieces and nephews.

A celebration of his life will be held at 4 p.m., Sunday Nov. 7, at Northern Light United Church in Juneau.

In lieu of flowers, memorials may be sent to the Bridge Adult Day Program, 895 W. 12th St., Juneau, AK 99801.

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