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Columbia Missourian

A father of six, Ronald Palmer was a family-man

By Mackenzie Bruce
March 6, 2013 | 8:59 p.m. CST

COLUMBIA — While his family members each had individual memories of drive-in theaters, dancing and getting doughnuts with Ronald Palmer, all could agree that he was a family-man.

On Wednesday, Mr. Palmer’s wife, sister, children, grandchildren, great-grandchild and even the family dog, Angel, gathered in the Palmer’s living room to share stories.

Ronald Dale Palmer, 72, of Columbia died Monday, March 4, 2013. He was 72.

To support his family, Mr. Palmer often worked two and three jobs. He was a sheet metal worker in Plant Engineering at the University Hospital and had other side jobs, including driving a cab.

“He even delivered a baby during one of his shifts as a cab driver,” KellyHiemericks, his daughter, said. “Everyone thought Mom loved babies the most, but he did just as much.”

Mr. Palmer was born on Sept. 14, 1940, to James and Nellie Palmer. He graduated from Hickman High School in 1958, the same year he met his wife, Fay, on a hayride.

Mr. and Mrs. Palmer were married on Sept. 18, 1959, and less than a year later the couple had their first daughter, Kelly Hiemericks.

But their family kept growing. Within two and a half years, Mr. Palmer was the father of five — all before he could legally buy alcohol.

After their first daughter, Mr. and Mrs. Palmer had two sets of twins: first Terry and Sherry and then Dennis and Donna.

Nellie Palmer said she remembers asking for a set of twin dolls for Christmas when she was 4 years old and joked that was her first premonition of twins.

Mr. Palmer served six years in the Missouri National Guard but left after the arrival of his fourth and fifth children.

Six years later, the family expanded once more with the birth of Tammy Schneider.

“Kelly and I always joke and say we’re the bookends,” Schneider said.

Mr. Palmer's family remembered his love for holidays. For Halloween, he would always devise new ways to scare neighborhood kids.

Schneider said he would use the family’s size to his advantage to make a sports team.

At Christmas, Terry Palmer remembered the house being decorated “Griswold style,” like the house in the movie "Christmas Vacation," with hundreds of lights.

Mr. Palmer attended the Praise Assembly of God church. He also participated in the church's Christmas parade for many years. Children used to mistake Mr. Palmer for Santa Claus because of his white beard, which he embraced, dressing up for Christmas parties and handing out candy canes, Donna Carter said.

 

He also worked with the Royal Ranger Commanders Boys Club.

Donna Carter’s son, Chris, was born two months prematurely, and she recalls her father visiting him at the University Hospital and taking Polaroid photographs to her everyday while she stayed at Boone County Hospital.

Mr. Palmer treated many people like family. Terry Palmer’s wife, Theresa, said she felt adopted into the family.

“He didn’t know a stranger and loved to talk to anyone,” she said.

He is survived by his wife, Fay Palmer; two sons, Terry D. Palmer of Columbia and Dennis Palmer of Tulsa, Okla.; three daughters, Kelly Heimericks of Columbia, Donna Carter of Columbia and Tammy Schneider of Indianapolis; a brother, Jerry Palmer of Columbia; two sisters, Ruth Ann Rice and Karen Carter, both of Columbia; 13 grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren.

Mr. Palmer was preceded in death by his parents, a daughter Sherry, a brother Larry and a sister Sharon Palmer.

Visitations will be from 6 to 7 p.m. Friday at Praise Assembly of God Church,  4300 Clark Lane.  Services will be held at 7 p.m. Friday at the church.

Condolences can be posted at parkerfuneralservice.com.