Cover photo for William (Bill) Scott Palmer's Obituary
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1961 Bill 2024

William (Bill) Scott Palmer

August 25, 1961 — June 25, 2024

Bryan, TX

“Have the vultures strip my bones and prop my skeleton in the corner with red LEDs in the eyes, a motor in the mouth, and a voice-box full of my witticisms activated by a motion detector.” Well, that turned out to be an impractical solution according to the prudes at the health department.

My father thought there would be nothing after he died, but I think he saw that as a personal challenge to live a fulfilled life with the limited resource of consciousness that he had. Even without cosmically derived morals, he was generous and kind in ways that were often unrecognized, and that’s just how he liked it.

He was born quite fittingly in Lone Star, Texas, but grew up first in San Antonio, where his father, Ruel, was the Chairman of the Department of Sociology at SAC, and his mother, Suzzanne, was a homemaker with a biology degree from Sam Houston. Later, in Floresville, as an early teenager, he helped his mother cope with the death of his father by running one of two motels and trailer park they built while still going to school during the day.

He loved fast cars, motorcycles, guns, and fencing, and appreciated the courage and iconoclasm of being an “adrenaline junkie.” Much like his father, who rode rodeo, I’m not sure he was ever more joyful than when his motorcycle was 10 feet in the air and still rising. If he could have been bullseyeing womp rats on Tatooine, he would have, since he was also an undiagnosed nerd who saw Star Wars in its original run 27 times, owned more than one lightsaber, and was told to figure out how to operate the first computer his school received in the early 70s. He was also an extra-class ham radio operator who could key Morse code out at over 40 WPM, bouncing across the troposphere to speak to the other side of the world.

Bill Palmer was a man who lived life with his boots on, but was never far away from a book or documentary, which were often obscure but always relevant to the many conversations he started with anybody who cared to be enlightened for a few minutes because he never met a stranger. He was an information hunter-gatherer who delighted in sharing the information he had acquired.

He was enormously witty and had an eternal optimism and sense of humor inherited from his father that kept everyone in his proximity laughing, even in the worst situations.

After meeting my mother, Bonnie, and his two daughters, Cara and Megan, at SAC, they transferred to A&M in 1988 to pursue his mechanical engineering degree, which he abandoned very close to completion to focus on the moving business he started to help make ends meet. He finally cast off the shackles of a 9-to-5 job when he sold the moving company to become a commercial landlord, effectively retiring in his early thirties.

He could often be found at A&M surplus auctions bidding on everything from Ferraris to big 3-gun projectors, because he marched to his own drum and was always chasing a deal even if he didn’t need anything, but he was successful at making hay while the sun was shining and forging good deals on bad ground. He also used his brilliant engineering mind to help run a moving business and establish a lucrative commercial property business.

After I was born, we moved to a respectable neighborhood that somehow got it in their heads that this sporadically absent, long-haired young man riding a Harley was the head of a motorcycle gang hiding out. He did not do much to disabuse them of that notion.

I had a great childhood that reminds me of the beautiful, unselfconscious weirdness of the Addams Family. As I grew older, his love of Frank Lloyd Wright helped push me towards a career in architecture, and watching him be a strong, virtuous, and kind man helped inform my notion of masculinity and cemented him as the pater familias in my heart.

He divorced after I was in college and never remarried, choosing to split his time supporting me and doing whatever the hell he wanted.

His Harley riding boots (He must have gone through 20 pairs in his lifetime) will be hard to fill.

He was an exceptional father and a Texan worth his salt. His legacy lives on.

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