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Obituary: Jack Allen Palmer

From The Yellow Springs News

Jack Allen Palmer died Monday, July 18, at the Dallas, Texas, home of his daughter, Sarah Palmer Murray. He was 78.

Jack was born April 15, 1933 in Meadville, Pa., to Richard Alvin Palmer and Florine Chapman. After his mother’s early death, he was raised outside Cleveland, and spent his teen years in Linesville, Pa. He graduated from Linesville High School, and went on to Hiram College, where he received a degree in mathematics. In 1954 he joined the U.S. Air Force, and attended flight school for two years. While in the service in the mid-1950s, he began learning about computers, and he continued to apply computer technology to business with a job at Bobbie Brooks Manufacturing in Cleveland.

Jack met Judy Duncan '61 in Cleveland where they were married in 1964, and together they continued their work and studies, and on the side followed their interest in folk music. They were involved for a while with the legendary folk club La Cave, where Judy sometimes sang, and there they got to know rising talents such as Ian and Silvia, and the Smothers Brothers. They enjoyed a bit of the Bohemian lifestyle while working and studying traditionally.

The Palmers moved to Framingham, Mass., where Jack worked at Polaroid. Jack loved making photographs and his art evolved when the company offered unlimited free use of their cameras and film, leading to everyone getting dozens of Polaroid portraits. Soon Jack took a job in the computer department at the University of New Hampshire in Durham. Shortly thereafter Sarah, their only daughter, was born. Both parents helped develop a stand-alone freshman study program at UNH, which included a liberal dose of Jack’s favorite writing, science fiction, especially the kind with futuristic sociological themes.

In 1979 Judy was offered a position at Procter & Gamble in Cincinnati. The family moved to Ohio and Jack set up a computer consulting business in Cincinnati. For one client he scanned an entire book into editable format, and he noticed that every time it saw the word God, it translated it into clod. That required hand correction for his clients, who were Philippine nuns. For years he proudly edited and made the layout for Ohio Youth Soccer Magazine, thriving on the intricate work under deadline.

During the late ’90s Jack and Judy were given an opportunity to move to Kobe, Japan with Procter & Gamble. Within their first two weeks in Japan, the Kobe earthquake hit, leaving them homeless, with all of their things and their two dogs. While horrific, this experience really affected them, showing them the courage and character of the Japanese people and culture.

Jack and Judy were frequent visitors to Bill and Marty Duncan’s house since the 1960s, and later lived on Kingsfield Court, from the late ’90s till 2004. In 2004, after Judy’s death, Jack moved to Green Valley, Arizona.

Jack had a nimble mind and loved intellectual topics. He was meticulous and well-organized, and had a great memory. He was an avid and skilled bridge player, and played competitively in Yellow Springs and Green Valley. His passion for photography continued throughout his life, and Jack was rarely seen without a camera in his hand. In retirement he produced great images, and attended many Photoshop workshops around the country to hone his production skills.

He was a dedicated and active supporter of Antioch College, working with alumni to keep the school healthy. His sense of humor was both wry and witty, featuring complex jokes, often with clever pun punch lines, sometimes responding to “It’s nice to see you,” with, “Why thanks, it’s great to be visible!”

Jack Palmer is no longer visible, but he lives in the memory of his appreciative and loving family and many friends. Jack is survived by his daughter, Sarah Palmer Murray and son-in-law Mark Murray; granddaughters Kate, Brooke and Sidney Murray of Dallas, Texas; brothers-in-law Bill Duncan '63, Dan Duncan and Alec Duncan '72 and their families and cousins Margaret and Dick Kettelkamp of Tucson, Ariz. A memorial will be held mid-August at the Green Valley Church of Religious Science in Green Valley, Ariz. Donations in Jack’s memory may be made to The Fund for Antioch College.