Thelma Palmer

Thelma V. Palmer

Thursday, February 6th, 2020
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Thelma Palmer, homemaker and devout Christian, died on February 6, 2020, at the age of ninety-one.
Mrs. Palmer was born Thelma Violla Robinson on June 4, 1928, near the tiny community of Couch, Oregon County, Missouri. She was the firstborn child of Charles “Charlie” Maurice Robinson and Dorothy May (Alford) Robinson. Charlie was a grocer. Dorothy was a busy and industrious homemaker, whom Charlie often enlisted to help tend “the store.”
When it became clear that the small community was unable to support her father’s grocery store, the family moved to Thayer, Oregon County, Missouri, where Thelma attended the local schools, and worked in her father’s general stores.
During her sophomore year in high school Thelma made a decision that gave direction and meaning to the rest of her life. She made a faith commitment to become a Christian. Soon thereafter, she volunteered to become a Sunday school teacher in a local Pentecostal church. Much of the rest of her life she was involved in teaching the Bible (and related subjects) to children, teenagers, young adults, adults, and seniors. Along the way, the audiences changed and the subjects changed, but Thelma’s love of learning and commitment to teaching never wavered.
In 1948, while attending Southwest Missouri State University (now Missouri State University) in Springfield, Missouri, Thelma met Donald “Don” LeRoy Palmer, a student at Central Bible Institute who hailed from Perkins County, South Dakota. The two were married on Sunday, September 11, 1949, in Thelma’s home church in Thayer, following the morning service.
To this union were born three children: Michael Don Palmer, Rexford Lynn Palmer, and Debora Kathryn (Palmer) Wiederspan.
Following Don’s retirement as a locomotive engineer, he and Thelma traveled the country in their motor home, taking in the sights of the Oregon coast in the fall, basking in the warmth of the Arizona sun during the winter months, and enjoying the Midwest and Southeast parts of the country during the early spring time. A highlight of their travels was to Plains Georgia where they met and attended a Sunday school class taught by Jimmy Carter.
Thelma loved to garden. Among other memorable delights, her vegetable garden yielded sweet corn, butternut squash, green beans, tomatoes and raspberries. Her pickled beets, pickles, peaches, pears and Bing cherries were family favorites.
Following Don’s death in 2004, Thelma lived in the family home in Missoula, Montana, until 2017 when she moved into an assisted living facility in Missoula. She remained in assisted living until her death.
Thelma is survived by her three children (Michael Don, Rexford Lynn, and Debora Kathryn), two daughters-in-law (Connie Marie (Weber) Palmer and Donna Mae (Weber) Palmer); sister Nola June (Robinson) Fletcher, numerous grandchildren and great grandchildren; and one great, great granddaughter.
She is preceded in death by her sister Velma Maxine Robinson (1930), sister-in-law Helen (Dills) Robinson (1973), father Charles “Charlie” Maurice Robinson (1977), mother Dorothy May (Alford) Robinson (1983), brother Dwight Lawrence Robinson (1992), brother-in-law Robert fletcher (1996), grandson Bradley “Brad” Charles Palmer (1997), husband Donald “Don” LeRoy Palmer (2004), son-in-law Charles “Charlie” Alan Wiederspan (2009), sister-in-law Betty (Carrington) Robinson (2009), great grandson Levi Donald Velin (2009), and brother Howard David Robinson (2019).
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Deb Wiederspan

Posted at 06:34pm
Thelma (Robinson) Palmer was our mother. Since her death on February 6th, we have been visited by many memories of her. Most of them fall into two categories: those that relate to her Christian faith and those that relate to her family. And of course, for Thelma, these things intersected and overlapped. Her love of God expressed itself in the way she cared for her family. And her love for her family was evidence that her faith was a living faith.
One of the ways she cared for us during our pre-teen childhood was to read to us. She read from many books. Among the favorites were:
The devotional book, Little Visits with God;
Uncle Remus (who could forget Brer Rabbit, Brer Terrapin, and Brer Fox);
Dr. Suess, The Cat in the Hat, and Green Eggs and Ham;
Mark Twain, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, and Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.
Black Beauty
Mom read these and other works expressively and with great enthusiasm. Listening to her, we learned to read – to consider carefully what the author was trying to communicate. Because of her example, we came to love reading.
She also introduced us to poetry. Among her favorite poems were several by Robert Frost, including a short one called “The Pasture.”

I'm going out to clean the pasture spring;
I'll only stop to rake the leaves away
(And wait to watch the water clear, I may):
I sha'n't be gone long.—You come too.

I'm going out to fetch the little calf
That's standing by the mother. It's so young,
It totters when she licks it with her tongue.
I sha'n't be gone long.—You come too.

This poem captures life with Thelma: For her, life was deeply interesting, and she enjoyed sharing it with others, especially with her children and grandchildren. I’m going out to gather huckleberries; you come, too. I’m going out to the garden to check the sweet corn and the squash; you come, too. I’m going to make root beer [or pickled beets, or cinnamon rolls, or whatever]; do you want to help? We’ll do it together. Would you like to learn how to polish agates? Come along.
Thelma came to faith during her sophomore year in high school, in the small community of Thayer, Missouri, where she grew up. From that time forward, she was a devout Christian. We say “devout” not because she was perfect (Who could honestly say such a thing?), but because she earnestly desired to follow Christ. She believed in the power of prayer, she loved to study the Bible, and she wanted her faith to make a difference in the world.
One of Mike’s enduring memories from his teen years is of watching her study the Bible. Mom was a night-owl; she seemed to be fully awake and alert during hours when most people were sleeping. We don’t know at what age she fell into this pattern, but it certainly was evident as far back as the mid-to-late-1960s when our family still lived on Strand Street. In those days, when any of us kids would arrive home late on a Friday or Saturday evening and enter the house through the back porch, we could see through the kitchen to her bedroom, where she sat on her bed, propped up by pillows, reading her Bible. Spread out on the bed all around her were various versions of the Bible and her commentaries.
On such late nights, we would often sit on a chair near the foot of her bed, discuss the day's events, get her perspective on issues we were struggling with, share a humorous story or listen as she read from the Bible. She loved:
The Gospel of John: “And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth,”
The prophetic writings of Isaiah: “He was despised and rejected by others; a man of suffering and acquainted with infirmity,”
The Psalms: “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want,” and
The book of Revelation: “Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth … And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God … And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘See, the home of God is among mortals. He will dwell with them; they will be his peoples, and God himself will be with them; he will wipe every tear from their eyes. Death will be no more; mourning and crying and pain will be no more, for the first things have passed away.’”
Equally important as to what she said, was that she listened.
Rex remembers the day he was in a life-threatening car crash. Miraculously, he escaped the instant before the car exploded and burned. Little did he know that at that same time, mom felt an overpowering burden for him and began to intercede for him in prayer.
Deb has many wonderful memories of shopping trips to Spokane with mom. They would eat out, go to movies and concerts, laugh and shop till they dropped. And if they ever got separated in any given store, Deb could always find mom just by listening to which direction the humming was coming from. Mom was constantly humming.
Thelma spent her final days in two care facilities. We want to thank the staff at those facilities for the care they gave her at a time when she increasingly could not care for herself. We also want to give the Hospice staff special thanks for their sincere and devoted care to her in her time of need. They were not only a blessing to her but to our family as well.
With Mom’s loss of memory, her final months were in a certain way a long goodbye. But each week when we visited and Mike called from Virginia our conversations would end something like this:
“Goodbye, Mom. I love you.” She would answer, “I love you more.”
Now we say our final goodbye, and it goes something like this: “Goodbye, Mom. I love you.” As always, she answers, “I love you more.” But this time there is a different ending. Speaking for her children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and one great-great-granddaughter, we say, “No Mom. We love you more.”
Rest in peace, Thelma Palmer. Rest in the gentle arms of God and in the love of your family. We miss you.

Judy Owings Posted at 12:28am

Dear Deb ~ Although a daunting task, what a beautiful, thoughtful encapsulation of Thelma's life on behalf of you, Mike and Rex. So well done! And I must say, it makes me wish for just a little more time with one so dear. Thankfully, God made provision for that...eternity in His presence will be "more than we could ever ask or think". Much love and prayers for you, her dear family. ~ Judy & Skip Owings

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