Roland Edward Palmer I, 73, a longtime resident of Riverside and Tunk Valley, Wash., passed away on Monday, March 17, 2014 in East Wenatchee, after a short battle with lung cancer.
He was born on Oct. 22, 1940, at Lakeview, S.D., to the late Edward Raymond “Ray” and Emma Leotina (Schrader) Palmer. While he was growing up, he made numerous moves with his father’s many jobs as a blacksmith and well driller. They lived and worked in South Dakota and Nebraska. He grew up learning mechanics and began working on cars at the age of 12.
In the mid 1960s, he started his family in the south central area of Montana. He moved to Norwalk, Calif., in the late 1960s and soon made his home in the Baldwin Park area. Roland began his automotive career early and acquired his first car, a 1929 Chevrolet Sedan, at the age of 13 for free. The seller challenged him that if he could get it started he’d sell it for $10. Roland rose to the challenge and drove it quickly back to the seller, who was so impressed he gifted him the car.
He continued to purchase model A’s and T’s from remote locations and doubled his money quickly. Through the years he built many personal favorite vehicles that included a pristine Studebaker pickup. He went to work as a mechanic at Peck Road Ford in Whittier, Calif. and in the late 1970s, he started his own company known as Ron’s Mobile Truck Repair. He operated his mobile mechanics business for eight years until moving in 1985, to the western life style he longed for at Tunk Valley, Wash. He continued working as a mechanic, fabricator and welder for a local machine shop and small gas engine repair shop in the area. He made the move into Riverside in 2003.
From the union of his first marriage were his children, Tammy and Robert; from the union of his second marriage was his son Darrel, and from the union of his third marriage were his children, Roland II and Natasha.
He was well known for having the knack to make people laugh. He was a fun, spunky and mischievous prankster. He loved camping trips with his children, horses, sentimental western mementos, guns and gun shows, and was a gourmet cook. He taught his children to play chess and the game casino. He was legendary for Halloween scares and extreme explosive firework pranks. He is known by most as “Papa.”
He is survived by his children, Tammy (Robert) Hosfield of Wilsall, Mont., Darrell (Mirta) Palmer of Riverside, Calif., Roland Edward Palmer II of Covina, Calif. and Natasha (Kyle) Martin of East Wenatchee, Wash.; step-children, Peterjohn (Mitzie) Martinez and Senovia Martinez, all of Spokane; four siblings, Garnet (Dale) Jones of Tucson, Ariz., Ronald (Arlee) Palmer and Russell Palmer of Billings, Mont., and Phyllis (Harold) DeSoto of Lenoir City, Tenn.; 15 grandchildren; and 10 great-grandchildren. He was preceded in death by his son, Robert Palmer-Dahl; his parents; sister Ruby Harris; and an infant brother and sister.
A celebration of life service will be held in Riverside, Wash. at 2:30 p.m. at the Riverside Grange Hall on April 19, 2014. Guests are welcome to bring a dish to share at the potluck and to share their memories of Roland. You are invited to visit his tribute online at www.HeritageMemorialChapel.com . Arrangements are in the care of Heritage Memorial Chapel, East Wenatchee.