Francis Palmer passed peacefully on Jan. 18, 2023 surrounded by love.
He was born on April 12, 1933 in New Hampshire and came from a large family. He had three brothers: Junior, Wayne, and Herman. He also had four sisters: Rose, Elizabeth, Eunice, and Madeline.
Francis had a kind heart and an adventurous spirit. He enlisted in the Army and served on the front lines in Korea. When he got out of the service he drove a pulp truck. He always said he worked in the woods. He was employed for many years at PH Chadbourne’s in Bethel.
Francis had a love for the woods that carried over to his hobbies of hunting, fishing, and trapping. He always had a story to tell about his adventures and those stories were ones that he told many times with a laugh and a smile. Francis never shied away from adventure even if it caused him broken bones or scrapes along the way.
He raced stock cars all over New England and was known as “Wildman.” If you wanted to see someone who took it to the edge, you would want to see Francis race at Oxford Plains on a Saturday night, His nickname fit him perfectly. He traded in his love for car racing when he met his true love, Louise. They were married for 50 years, and nothing made him happier than being with her. Francis and Louise had one daughter, Melissa, and he also had two stepdaughters, Beatrice and Betty.
They had a good life together and went on many trips. When they first started vacationing it was to the coast with a Ford station wagon and a tent. The tent was used to store the food and necessities and the station wagon was where they all would sleep; Francis and Louise in the back, and Melissa on the front seat. They later upgraded to a pop-up camper, then to a fifth-wheel with a bathroom and shower. They would travel to the Midcoast and stay in Owls Head and at Searsport Shores campground, amongst other spots. Later in life, Francis and Louise shared a common love of country music and traveled to Branson, Mo. They made many trips with Francis driving and Louise doing the navigating.
In retirement Francis was a weather stick maker as well. Anyone from the Bethel area knows about these sticks. Along with Louise he would make thousands of sticks each year. The money from this hard work would allow them the opportunity to go to Branson for their yearly excursions.
Francis took immense pride in his homes and the property that came with them. He had two homes, one in Newry at Stony Brook where he grew fruit trees, was a beekeeper, planted lots of vegetables and picked berries. He was someone that always loved to putter and keep busy – this property was just perfect for him. Later, he and Louise moved to the little green house on the Locke Mills/Bethel town line; not so much land but still enough for Francis to get his hands in the dirt.
Another love was Christmas and Francis was known for stringing thousands of lights each year, along with lighted snowman, reindeer, penguins, and of course Santa Claus. Francis did the hard work but he let Louise do all the adjusting to make everything look just perfect. They enjoyed this house until Francis lost his one true love at which time he moved down to Jefferson to be close to his daughter, Melissa.
Jefferson offered Clary Lake where Francis became friends with a neighbor who took him out fishing. Not too many fish were caught but being on the water always provides for a good adventure. In 2019 Francis had the opportunity to go on Honor Flight Maine – where war veterans are given a trip to Washington, D.C. to see all the war memorials. It was a first class trip and one that was even better because he was able to share it with his daughter and, as luck would have it, with his grandson, Os. Francis was fortunate to spend his last few months at the new Veterans Home in Augusta – a place we all called “the palace” – where he made friends and was lovingly cared for by the amazing staff.
With a broken heart I can only say, “They don’t make them like this anymore.” I have lost my Dad and my best friend but take comfort in knowing that he is with my Mom and his true love Louise – they are together once again as it should be.
A celebration of life will take place at 11 a.m. on Sunday, Feb. 19 at Chandler Funeral Home, 45 Main St., South Paris.
Online condolences may be shared with his family at chandlerfunerals.com.