J. Robert Palmer
J. Robert Palmer, known to his friends as “Bob,” passed away peacefully on January 6, 2018, surrounded by his family, at the age of 84 years.
His start in life was tenuous at best, born early on October 24, 1933 at a mere two pounds, and warmed under the lights typically used for baby chicks. The son of Agnes and Fred I. Palmer, he lived with his family on an award-winning working dairy farm in Skowhegan, Maine. Overcoming this challenge at birth proved that Bob was a fighter and that he had a growing streak of determination.
Bob’s childhood days were spent learning in school and working on the farm, nurturing his indiscriminate love of animals. He was a national winner in the state of Maine for a tractor driving contest with the local 4-H group, winning an all-expenses paid trip to Chicago, Illinois.
Bob began working at the Skowhegan Airport in exchange for lessons to become a pilot and earned his pilot’s license before the age of 20. He joined the U.S. Air Force in 1953 and became a veteran for his service in the Korean War. Bob married Suzanne H. LaRochelle on December 22, 1953 at the age of 20 and started his family while in the service, having his first child in 1955.
After completing his active duty tour, Bob continued his education at the RCA Institute in New York City. A short time later, he obtained his Federal Communications Commission, FCC, First Class Radiotelegraph License, opening new employment opportunities to build a civilian career.
Bob began a 45-plus-year career in communications by working for a number of radio and television stations in the New England area. Most notable was his two-year stint on the top of Mt. Washington in New Hampshire with WMTW, and a lengthy service with WTEV-WLNE Channel 6 in New Bedford.
While an engineer at WTEV-WLNE, Bob was a member of the local chapter of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, (IBEW), union, later becoming a leader in the role of vice president.
He went on to work for Colony Communications and The Providence Journal out of Rhode Island, and Toronto-based Larcan, selling radio and television transmitters.
Bob was a traveler, visiting and living in many places over the course of his lifetime. He made his home in eight states from Maine, New York, Virginia, New Hampshire, and Massachusetts on the east coast to Mississippi and to California and Washington on the west coast. After retirement, he returned to Massachusetts to spend time with his family and settled in Fall River.
Bob was a social creature by nature and quickly made friends in his apartment complex. He made everyone feel welcome and was always eager to lend a hand to help or an ear to listen. Bob held onto his beliefs with a fierce passion and shared them freely. He formed a community in his building by hosting movie nights, games, and dinners. Bob truly enjoyed life and his food, never passing up a glass or two of Moxie. His family joked that there really wasn’t anything he wouldn’t eat - even raw oysters - as his grandson, Jackson learned via a challenge the hard way!
Bob loved to fly and in later years, when he could no longer actually take off into the sky, he enjoyed an alternative method of flying with flight simulation on his computer. Some of Bob’s favorite ways to pass time included collecting and tinkering with radios, shopping for antiques, reading, especially history, and using his hands as a craftsman to create.
Bob loved animals and rescued many of them including birds, dogs, pigs, and chipmunks, one of whom got loose in the house for days eating dog food. He was a gifted storyteller, reminiscing about his earlier adventures. This Christmas Eve, he shared a story with his grandchildren about having a pet crow as a youth. The crow story may have been a seed story that Bob planted as almost immediately after his passing, four crows flew in and landed briefly on the roof outside the window of Bob’s room. Perhaps, Bob wants his family and friends to remember him and know that he is near whenever crows are spotted.
He is survived by his wife, Mary Hiatt Palmer; his three sons, Timothy (Brenda) of Rochester, Matthew, (Laurie) of Westport, and Jonathan (Patty) of Bridgewater; his daughter Courtney of Arlington, Washington; his eight grandchildren, Heather, Kristen, Devon, Sean, Ryan, Jackson, Abigail, and Caroline; his former wife, Suzanne Palmer; and his niece, Nancy Nelson.
He was preceded in death by his parents; a brother, Vaughn Carl; and a sister, Natalie; and his beloved rat terrier, Patrick, who adored Bob and was a true companion in every sense of the word.
A celebration of Bob’s life will be held at 12-2PM on June 3rd at the Curtain Lofts 420 Quequechan St Fall River, MA 02723.
Memorial donations in memory of Bob can be made to The Humane Society and Shelter of Southcoast 31 Ventura Dr. Dartmouth, MA 02747.