Nathan Hunt Palmer

Nathan Hunt Palmer

May 21, 1936 – July 21, 2016

To those who knew and loved Pop, it is no surprise that he died with as much selflessness and dignity with which he lived. Our loving and loyal husband, father, grandfather, and brother died at 2 p.m. July 21, at the age of 80, with his family by his side.

He is survived by his wife of 52 years, Suzy (Elsa) Palmer; his children, Andrew Hunt (Amy) Palmer and Anne Palmer (Dan) Wilson; his eight grandchildren, Gerry (Heather), Morgan, Jonah, Annie, Sofia, Josephine, Elijah and Abraham; and his sister Quimby (Mark) Mahoney. He was preceded in death by his mother Blanche Hunt Palmer, his father Percival Bowditch Palmer III and his brother Bradley (Judy) Palmer.

Nate grew up in Hinsdale, Ill., with a close-knit community that surrounded him and his siblings with joy and love. He graduated from Deerfield Academy in Massachusetts and later from Dartmouth College. Often seen proudly wearing “Dartmouth green,” Deerfield and Dartmouth were both places that made Nate beam with pride. He cherished the foundational education and the enduring relationships he established while there.

A retired United States Air Force captain, Nate spent some of his service time in South Korea on an island known as Paengnyong-Do. He often shared stories and life lessons from the time he spent in Korea. Serving his country helped shape his life’s principle of “contentment.”

After his service he started his career in sales beginning with Sunbeam and eventually running the family business, Illinois FWD Truck and Equipment Company.

After his first encounter with cancer in 1999, Nate retired and decided to spend the rest of his life making family and community his priority. In 2011, Nate and Suzy moved to Whidbey Island to spend more time with their grandchildren.

Nate was happiest when helping others. Without any showmanship but always with a sparkle in his eye, he often volunteered at the local elementary school, or drove friends, neighbors, and even complete strangers to cancer treatment appointments. He adored attending his grandchildren’s sporting events and other activities. One of his favorite pastimes was driving his 1930 Model A in local parades and hanging out with his Whidbey Island Model A Club buddies.

Nate influenced all of us in big and small ways. He is known for teaching us all how to have a “firm handshake while looking people directly in the eye.” He exuded class and felt most comfortable in his sport coat and tie. Always a practical joker, he never missed an opportunity to make us smile. He loved kites, remote-control planes and boats, corn on the cob, reading, sailing, black coffee, raisin toast, the Chicago Bears, Jamaica, old cars, jets, apple pie and bacon. He was proud to be an American, a Palmer, a brother, a husband, a father and a grandfather.

In a small entry for a Deerfield reunion, Nate described himself as being “inside proud” and remembered headmaster Boyden’s words, “Be worthy of your heritage,” which he said made him try harder. Nathan Hunt Palmer has left an incredible legacy of humility, hard work and service to others. He will be missed every single day.

There will be no service at his request; however, if you would like to honor Nate, make your next handshake firm and always remember to look people directly in the eye.

A few of Nate’s favorite organizations:

Boys Town:

Smile Train:

Coupeville Public Library:

Arrangements are entrusted to Wallin Funeral Home, Oak Harbor. Please visit Nathan’s page in the Book of Memories online at to share memories and condolences.

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