Songs played at Mr. Palmer's service:
I Can Only Imagine- MercyMe, I'll Fly Away- Ralph Stanley, Jealous of the Angels- Jean Bostic, Dancing in the Sky- Dani and Lizzy, Keep me in Your Heart- Warren Zevon, See You Again- Carrie Underwood, Look On the Bright Side- Monty Python
The Life of George Royal Palmer Encapsulated
In the hours that we have here today, it is very difficult to encapsulate the ninety-six-year life span of George Royal Palmer. He was many things to many people, a beloved and faithful husband of 62 years, a caring father to four children, and a grandfather to many grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and a great-great grandfather to a few more.
George was born in Statesville, North Carolina into a Christian farming family. He was the middle child of five born to Fred Myers and Nellie Marie McQuerry Palmer. His oldest brother, Faye Marion, was born and became deaf due to a childhood illness. Two years after Faye came sister, Margaret Wallace (later changed to Marie), followed by George two years later. Four years after George, Elvest Lee and another eleven years Melville Gene were born to the family. Shortly after Melville's birth, Margaret’s child, Darla, was born. During Darla’s early years, she was raised by her grandparents, along with her cousin Melville.
The family worked together to grow gladiolas and vegetables which were sold. Their father had Faye and George leave their shoes in the truck, even in cold weather, while each took a bundle of gladiolas to sell throughout the offices in Little Rock. Since Faye was deaf he carried a note.... he always sold all his flowers. George had to be determined and enterprising to sell his. Once, when George entered an office, the receptionist said “NO... WE DON'T WANT ANY”. The secretary overheard and as she popped around the corner asked, “want what?”. She saw the beautiful gladiolas George was selling and bought every last one. George and his father would sell watermelons and other vegetables door-to-door throughout the neighborhoods of Little Rock. George recalled selling more produce, especially watermelons, in the poorer areas.The family was unaffected by the depression because they were self-sufficient. They were always rich in love and family.
All the Palmer children were mischievous. George recalls throwing mud clods with Lee one day; Lee threw a clod at George, who ducked, causing the clod to hit their father. On another occasion, George and Lee were chasing one another and ran through the house and were scolded by their mother. Lee decided, for whatever reason, it was a good idea to hide under the house. George drew a bucket of water and stood on the steps beside where Lee was hiding. He waited until their father called Lee, knowing that Lee would have to answer. As Lee emerged, George drenched Lee with the bucket of water.
Because of Faye’s need for special schooling, the family moved from Statesville to Ashville, North Carolina to be close to the Deaf School in Knoxville, Tennessee. When George was about 13, the family moved to Mablevale, Arkansas for Faye’s schooling at the Arkansas School for the Deaf. George told his grandchildren, many times, the story of his 13th birthday, when his mother made him 13 plate sized pancakes and he ate every last one. Later the family moved to the Ironton Community along the Pulaski-Saline county line.
George attended Fuller High School where he met and fell in love with Helen Smith. During his senior year, he enlisted in the US Coast Guard and left school just short of finishing. His principal, Mr. Potter, gathered up enough credits to award a diploma, which he received while in signalman’s school for the coast guard.
His first duty station was at Norfolk, Virginia. His unit made several trips along the eastern seaboard and on the Inland Waterway scouting for enemy submarines before joining forces in the European theater during World War II. It was on that voyage that George received his Army draft notice which he promptly ripped up and threw in the trash.
During a shore leave in England a dog managed to stowaway aboard the cutter. Having left port before the discovery, the ship captain assigned George to tend to the dog. Someone, perhaps the captain, named the dog... George trained Bubbles to use a litter box while aboard. Bubbles never messed on the deck but would hold until the cutter docked then dash off to “do his business”. Bubbles would return before the cutter left the dock.
George recalled a time when in the English Chanel, both British and German ships were firing toward the cutter he was on, so he responded to both appropriately through the signals, telling both... Don't Shoot!
Many letters were exchanged between George and his sweetheart, Helen. One letter she received said, “Dear Helen,” and “Love George” but everything else had been cut out by censors. In the contents of that letter, among other things, George had speculated about the upcoming invasion without prior knowledge of it – even though it did come to pass. As a signalman, he relayed many messages to the troop ships, including for the Normandy Invasion.
Another memory George recounted was of he and buddy Wayne Tillman, while ashore in France, walking from the dock to the nearby town. The pair were met by a six or seven-year old blonde French girl holding a single daffodil. Not speaking the language, Tillman gave her a quarter for her flower. George often wondered about the young girl and how she might have fared throughout her life.
While on the cutter, George earned extra money by doing the laundry of other servicemen which he used to fully purchase a home on Ironton Road across from his parents. Once the European conflict was winding down, George returned home on leave.
Helen’s mother requested that they wait until she turned twenty to marry. Circumstances of life and military duty brought George and Helen to marry about two weeks before her birthday, on July 6, 1945, with their parents' blessings.
The newlyweds traveled separately to Long Beach, California where George was stationed. They lived with Faye and his wife, Vera, in anticipation of George being sent to the Pacific front. However, the war ended when Japan surrendered in August. George was honorably discharged on November 7, 1945 and soon the newlyweds returned to Arkansas. George recalled that his old car overheated around Morrilton, Arkansas, so they hitch-hiked to Little Rock with a pair of GIs who were returning to their homes in Memphis. From Little Rock, George and Helen caught the bus through the Sweethome community to Case Rd. They walked from the highway, with suitcases in hand, to Helen's parents' home and walked in. Helen went to her parents' bedroom and kissed her sleeping Daddy on the forehead. He opened his eyes and said “Hi Baby.” then went right back to sleep.
Now out of the military, and home with his bride, George established a dairy business on their Ironton Road property. He designed and built the barn complete with a milking station.
On January 2, 1947, delivered by George’s mother, Kathy was born. George recalled the time that Kathy toddled to the cattle area and climbed through the barbed wire fence, tearing her dress, where she was met by the bull. George rescued and comforted her. On another occasion, she peeked through the slats in the pigpen and came face to face with the hog, squealing, “Piggeeee! Piggeeee!” Thirty-three months after Kathy, on September 22, 1949, Teresa was born. Teresa caught pneumonia as an infant. George remembered the old farmhouse as being without insulation and cracks in the walls so wide that a big tomcat could go right through.
On April 1, 1951, George, Helen, and their growing family moved into the home with ninety-nine point six acres they purchased on Military Road near Jacksonville. On December 20, 1951, Patti was born. George walked to Jacksonville to get the doctor and arrived home just in time for the doctor to cut the cord and wash the baby. The doctor threw the wash water through the porch screen which George vividly recited with disgust on numerous occasions.
Kathy stayed inside and was Helen’s helper with the household chores.
Teresa was George’s helper for all things outdoors, including construction projects around the home and sawing firewood with the crosscut two-man saw. Teresa recalled that from about age ten, if it snowed or iced overnight, George would wake her around sunup, telling her to dress extra warm, eat breakfast and be ready to go for a ride. While she ate, he would load big chains and hooks into whatever vehicle he owned at the time. They would go out in search of people whose car slid off the road. George would hook up the chains and pull the vehicle back onto the road. Once he pulled a tractor out of the ditch after the owner slid while trying to pull out his wife's car. George got them both back on the road. As usual he offered advice on how to drive on the ice. He continued the practice of helping others at every opportunity for many years. George would never accept payment although it was often offered.
Patti remained the baby of the family until June 13,1956 when Randy was born.
After selling the dairy, George walked from Military Road to the highway to catch the bus to work six days weekly because he did not yet own a car. He worked for Atkins Phelps and for the Farmer’s Coop as a truck driver making deliveries throughout Arkansas with regular deliveries to Mississippi. He delivered feed, seed, farm supplies and anything else the company sold. He carried extra feed with him to sell along the way in case someone needed something they had not ordered, or to pick up a new customer. He recalled the extremely bumpy washboard roads throughout the countryside in those days before paved roads were the norm. George was promoted to store manager and was offered another promotion before eventually resigning to become a carpenter.
During the seven year apprenticeship, George moved the family moved from the Military Road address to his final home on Southeastern Ave, Jacksonville, Arkansas on August 1, 1965. He helped build many houses and subdivisions. He even dug a few sewer lines by hand with pick and shovel, sometimes in frozen ground. He worked on several local landmarks during his career including the Park Plaza Sears Building(no longer standing) and the Jacksonville City Library (now used by the Methodist Church). Sometime during his forties, George developed problems with equilibrium making it unsafe for him to be walking on open rafters and beams. Eventually he gave up the trade and went to work for a local factory as a printing press operator. While there, George helped to organize the local union and served as treasurer for a number of years, having set up the bookkeeping for the union.
Later George purchased the land and built the building for the first Palmer’s Auto Supply in Gravel Ridge, Arkansas. As she had done all of her life, Teresa helped him build the building. Once it was open, his son, Randy, came to help him run it. It was so successful that he opened a second store in Runyan Acres. In 1985, he purchased Mr. K Foods, a convenience store that would be run by his daughter, Patti. He later sold both the Gravel Ridge and Runyan Acres parts stores, and reopened at a new location in the Kellogg Valley Shopping Center in Gravel Ridge.
George sold the parts store in 1988, but continued to operate the convenience store until he sold it and retired in 1992, allowing him to be more available to care for Helen who had become disabled due to rheumatoid arthritis.
George raised his children, as well as four foster children, with firmness and gentleness. He never failed to set a good example as a Christian father. In 1967, his first grandchild was born. As more grandchildren arrived, “Pawpaw and Me-maw” were an influential and sometimes integral part of the raising of their grandchildren.
George worked long, hard, and honestly throughout his career, often six days a week. Before and after his workday he tended his livestock and worked in the family garden. Sunday was reserved for Church for the Palmer family. Occasionally George would nod off during the service. Once the preacher teased him about his napping during the message. The solution, stay busy. The following Sunday morning after men's Bible study, George and several other men began going to the homes of the Church widows. They did any repairs needed: leaky roof or faucet, running toilet, grounding an electric outlet, installing a hand rail ... etc.. Once the Church widows' homes were repaired, the group went to the community widows' homes with the same no-charge repair service, spreading the Gospel of good will. George taught the Church men carpentry skills to keep their own homes in good repair, while helping others....... Doing the Word.
George was never prone to be idle. He loved woodworking, building birdhouses, picture frames and sawhorses, which he sometimes sold. He even learned to fish and loved the quietness of the water, unless his children or grandchildren were available to tag along, then it was full speed ahead!!
George and Helen continued to live at the Southeastern Ave. address and shared the grief of the passing of their son Randy on his 49th birthday in 2005. Helen passed away in her sleep on March 13, 2008, and George lived alone in their home for several years. His oldest daughter, Kathy, followed her mother in death on July 7, 2011. In November 2012, his youngest daughter, Patti, moved in with George. Eventually, she and the family began to realize that his aging memory left him needing more help. To their shock, he still passed a driving test meant to test his cognitive ability. Eventually his keys were taken away. Many times George would BANG on the wall and holler, “Patti let’s go gallivanting!!!!” He would often ask to stop and eat, sometimes after they had just stopped to eat. When Patti was no longer able to give the amount of care her father needed, Teresa, always George’s right hand, took him to her home in Richardson, Texas, and provided him with excellent care until his death on July 28, 2020.
Our Dad, our Pawpaw, our grandpa, had friends across several generations in both Arkansas and Texas. He touched many lives outside of his family, reaching beyond his Church, past his work life, and into his community, inspiring others to do and give only their best.
State of Arkansas COVID-19 Directives will be followed including: Masks are required (not provided) and social distancing will be maintained.
The Character of George Royal Palmer
George Royal Palmer was building his own Christian character throughout his young life, when at age 22 he gave himself to Christ in baptism. He never wavered in his faith, marrying his high school sweetheart, and like-minded Christian, Helen Smith. As his family grew, George taught his children through church and personal example. Over time, all four children accepted Christ and were baptized.
He wore many hats in his lifetime: farmer, truck driver, carpenter, factory worker, and business owner; but the truth was, George Palmer was also a teacher. Not just in words, but in the example his life was gave us. He taught his children to revere God and to love our nation and the flag that represents it; to respect our elders (meaning anyone older than we, even as adults); to respect who we worked for; to always be worth more than we were paid, and to keep good business ethics over profit.
Always a good man, George was determined to help his descendants walk the right path. To that end, he influenced the next generation and helped them start their lives on honest and righteous paths.
During the late 1950s, due to his faithfulness to God, his ethics and his work history George was chosen as building superintendent for the Church of Christ in Jacksonville, Arkansas, and was also honored with the office of deacon for that congregation.
I Timothy 3:8-16 KJV
Likewise, must the deacons be grave, not double-tongued, not given to much wine, not greedy of filthy lucre;
9)Holding the mystery of the faith in a pure conscience. 10) And let these also first be proved; then let them use the office of a deacon, being found blameless. 11) Even so must their wives be grave, not slanderers, sober, faithful in all things. 12) Let the deacons be husbands of one wife ruling their children and their own houses well. 13) For they that have used the office of deacon well purchased to themselves a good degree, and great boldness in the faith which is in Christ Jesus. 14) These things I write unto thee, hoping to come unto thee shortly: 15) But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth. 16) And without controversy, great is the mystery of Godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into Glory.
His children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren all knew their Dad, PawPaw, and Grandpa lived every day by this example in Christ. Now, his earthly work is done.
Rest well in your heavenly mansion, George Royal Palmer, rest well.
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