It was the day of my missionary farewell. Some of my family and friends had gathered after church to eat and visit. It would be the last time I would see many of them until my mission was over. My grandpa & grandma, Reed & Loa Fae Palmer, had traveled from West Valley, Utah to Castle Dale/Orangeville to hear me speak.
We had a nice visit and then around 2:00pm they decided to head back home before it got dark and the weather got bad. Since I didn't have to be at the MTC for two weeks I was going to spend some time in Nevada with my parents and then a few days in West Valley with Grandma & Grandpa. We hugged and said we would see each other in a few days.
The next day I went to work at my three jobs and then again on Tuesday. Tuesday was my last day of work and then I would finish packing and head to my Gardner grandparent's house to spend the night before heading up north. I had no idea of the news I would get when I got off work that evening.
I had been living with some good friends and when I got home two of the girls were playing while the others were out and about. On the kitchen counter was a note telling me to call my aunt. It looked like an old paper but I asked the girls if they knew whether it was from that day or not. They didn't know so I decided to call her just in case. When she answered the phone she said that she hadn't called but that I needed to talk to my mom and she started to get very emotional. I became concerned thinking that maybe something had happened to my dad. I asked her what was wrong and she finally told me that my grandparents were missing. I couldn't figure out what she meant. My grandparents were home safe in the Salt Lake Valley, weren't they?
As I sat in shock I just couldn't accept the news. I hung up the phone and then called my mom. She told me that some snowmobile riders had found Grandpa & Grandma's Cadillac sedan on a mountain road above Joe's Valley Reservoir in Sanpete County, Utah. It was stuck in a four foot snowdrift and my grandparents were not in the car. There was a search party currently looking for them. I immediately knew that they were not going to be found alive but even though I was very sad about that realization, I felt at peace because no matter what, they were together and everything would be okay.
I think I was still in shock and had to sit down. I sat in the middle of the kitchen floor and started to cry. The two girls were concerned and came and gave me hugs. I finally decided to call a friend to come give me a Priesthood blessing. When the girls' dad returned he and my other friend gave me a beautiful blessing of peace and comfort. I was told that everything would be fine and that I should be happy for my grandparents. I also felt very strongly that I would use this experience as I taught the Gospel on my mission and that it would be a great tool in helping others to understand our Heavenly Father's Plan of Happiness.
When I calmed down I packed the remainder of my stuff in my car and drove to my other grandparents house. As I got closer I could see a sheriff's department vehicle parked in front of the house. I immediately knew that they had found Grandpa & Grandma Palmer. I also knew that they hadn't made it.
I walked in the house as the two members of the sheriff's department were explaining where they had found the bodies. I think we were all in tears and yet there was a peace in the room and we knew everything was going to be okay. I don't really remember much else about that night except for a deep sadness that I would not see these two wonderful people again in this life.
Over the next week or so, we received such an outpouring of love toward us and witnessed the impact these two amazing people had had on their community and those who knew them. Before we had a chance to leave Orangeville the next day, Fox13 News showed up to interview Mom. Most of the local Salt Lake news stations aired stories of my grandparents and the tragedy that had befallen them. They also did human interest stories that talked about all the wonderful things that my grandparents had done in their lifetimes. Almost everybody who had ever met my grandparents had loved them and there were so many people who wanted to pay their respects
The viewing was held one week after they had gone missing. It had been scheduled for a couple hours but ended up going more than four. The people just kept coming. The funeral was the same way. There was literally standing room only. E Reed and Loa Fae were very well loved by all.
Grandpa had been known as the "bike man." He had started fixing and building bikes as a hobby to earn a little extra money especially after he retired however he ended up giving away more bikes than he sold. When he would meet a child he would ask them if they had a bike because every child needed one. If they couldn't afford one he would tell them that was okay because the only payment he needed was a hug. All the kids in the neighborhood knew that if they had a flat or needed something else fixed they just had to give Reed a hug and he would gladly fix it. Grandma would mumble about how they never had any money because Grandpa did every thing for free yet we all knew that she was actually very proud of him. At the funeral many of the kids from the neighborhood, and even some adults, tied yellow ribbons on the handlebars of their bikes and parked them on the lawn in front of the church.
The summer after my mission my parents and I had the opportunity to find out where Grandpa & Grandma were found. We felt like we needed a little closure. My parents were in Utah for several days and since it was a nice summer day we decided we would take a ride up the mountains and try and figure out where they had been. Dad called the investigating officer to see if he could give some general directions and an idea of where they had been. The officer had the day off and volunteered to lead us up there and show us and tell us what had happened.
Anybody that is familiar with highway 29 knows that you don't try to attempt going over the mountain in the winter. My dad says that even in summer there are times when you can't go over without four-wheel drive. We had told my Grandpa that for years. It is not a good road even though it shows it on most maps. Just past Joe's Valley Reservoir as you head up the mountain you hit the switchbacks and then what is called the White Dugway. Usually this road is closed in the winter. We were going up in a Dodge Ram 1500 in the summer time and trying to imagine going up in a Cadillac sedan in the winter. It was hard to imagine. How did they get that far. They had traveled something like four miles in the car before it got stuck in a snowdrift. They had then left the car and traveled a few more miles on foot going uphill instead of back the way they had come. Apparently they had been following fresh snowmobile tracks. Grandpa's body was found first. He looked like he was going downhill and had just collapsed. They went back about 600 yards and found Grandma just off the road under a tree. It looked like she had just fallen asleep. We will never know in this lifetime what made them go that way in the first place but it is still reassuring to know that they had been together.
Grandma was a quiet person and preferred to stay in the background but she was loved as much as Grandpa. She had made many floral arrangements for the church building and for many people in the ward. She also did wedding bouquets. She had made the bouquets for all of her married granddaughters. I kind of felt sad that she hadn't made mine. We had talked for years about buying the flowers and just getting it made so I would have one when I finally do get married but for one reason or another it never happened. However, after my mission I learned that I had inherited the bouquet that she had used as a display for years. I am so happy to know that on the day I finally get married I will, like my sisters and cousins, get to hold a bouquet made by my grandma.
Grandma and I had a lot in common. She was like a best friend in a lot of ways. We had similar likes in clothes, food, window shopping, and especially in collecting dolls. I knew I could always ask Grandpa for advice and that he would never say no when it came to needing a Priesthood blessing. These angels were and still are my heroes. I miss them every day. I can't go to the Salt Lake Valley without wishing I could stop in to visit.
People began to ask me if I was still planning on going on my mission or if I would postpone it. I didn't know why I should. Sure I was sad but I knew they were in a better place and that staying home even if just for a little while wouldn't do them any good or myself for that matter. Grandpa had always wanted to serve a mission. He hadn't done so as a young man and had only served a service mission close to home. He was very into missionary work though and had been serving as the ward mission leader. I remember the day I told them that I was going and the reaction he had was wonderful. I couldn't not go because I knew my decision had made him so happy and I had a feeling that he and my grandma would be watching over me. My mission was hard and many people blamed the deaths of my grandparents as a big reason for the depression that I went through during and after. To this day I have never felt that that had anything to do with what I went through. It was their time to go and even though I missed them I knew they were together in a much better place.
I'm sorry for rambling on so long. I love my grandparents and this time of year is hard for all the family. I know that I will see them again.I am so grateful to my Father in Heaven for providing a plan in which we can all be together again someday after this life.
I miss you Grandma & Grandpa and love you forever!
Elton Reed Palmer 1932 ~ 2007 Loa Fae Heaps Palmer 1933 ~ 2007 Elton Reed Palmer, beloved father, grandfather, great-grandfather, brother, uncle and friend, left this mortal experience January 30, 2007 under tragic circumstances. Born September 28, 1932 in Union, Utah to Elton Walter and Farrel Genevieve Carlsen Palmer. He was the eldest of two sons, his brother Gale Lavell (Marjorie) survives him. He married his high school sweetheart, Loa Fae Heaps on January 25, 1951 in West Jordan. They were sealed for time and eternity on January 25, 1961 in the Salt Lake Temple. His life was one of service and love. He served in the House of Representatives. He was very active in the LDS Church, serving in many capacities including the high council for about 18 years. He served in his community in many ways. He will probably best be remembered as the "Bike Man". Loa Fae Heaps Palmer loving mother, grandmother, great-grand-mother, sister, aunt and friend, left this earthly realm January 30, 2007 with her eternal companion. Fae was born January 24, 1933 in Escalante, Utah to William Nelvin and Violet Lucille Lancaster Heaps. She was the second child of five. Her siblings are Darrell Reed (Josie), William (Sharon), Alice Judy Christensen (Gerry). The couple were blessed with four beautiful daughters: Shauna Lee (Lyndon) Gardner, Spring Creek, NV; Susan Fae (David) Rivers, West Jordan; Sheryl (Lynn) Bristol, West Jordan; Tamra Lynette Baldwin, Sandy. They were then blessed with 10 grandchildren plus six in-law-grandchildren; 11 great-grand-children and two on the way, rounded out their posterity. They were preceded in death by their parents and Fae's sister, Beth Ward. Funeral services will be Monday, February 5, 12:00 noon at the Kearns East Stake Center, 4731 South 4300 West. A viewing will be Sunday from 5-8 p.m. at a different church, Academy Park Ward, 4605 West Westpoint Drive (4610 South) and on Monday at the Kearns East Stake Center from 10-11:30 a.m. Interment, Murray City Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to Utah First Credit Union.
The Salt Lake Tribune Published February 1, 2007 1:23 am This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2007, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted. WEST VALLEY CITY - The sign on the Palmers' house says "Reed's Bike & Trike."
But Elton Reed Palmer didn't run much of a business. He gave away a lot more bicycles than he sold, and he seldom charged any child for a repair.
"Every child in the neighborhood knew if they had a flat tire on a bike or a scooter, they could go to Reed and he would fix it," said Catherine Solomon, a neighbor to Palmer and his wife, LoaFae Palmer.
No more children will be running to the Palmer house with their bicycles.
The Palmers, both 74, were found dead Tuesday in central Utah. Police believe they died from exposure.
The bodies were found on State Road 29 in Sanpete County, about seven miles west of the Emery County line. The couple's car was located about four miles west of the line, stuck in the snow.
Residents in West Valley City's Academy Park neighborhood, where the Palmers lived, choked up Wednesday as they remembered the couple.
From 1979 to 1982, Elton Reed Palmer, who went by his middle name, served the neighborhood in the Utah House of Representatives. He sat on improvement associations and was credited with helping to bring the neighborhood a park known today as Welcker Memorial Park.
The park used to be an empty lot full of grasshoppers; the weeds would catch fire every summer.
"Reed was Mr. Academy Park," said resident Joe Praag. "He did a lot for this neighborhood."
Solomon said Reed Palmer was always offering to help someone with a household project.
"Probably not a day goes by you wouldn't see him out in his truck riding around trying to help, trying to see what he could do for other people," Solomon said.
Speaking to The Tribune at the couple's home on Wednesday, Tammy Baldwin, one of their four daughters, said her father took up fixing bicycles after he retired.
He would introduce himself to new neighbors and ask if the children had bikes, Baldwin said. If kids didn't have bikes, he would give them one, often at Christmas, she said.
"He would fix them for a hug if they didn't have money."
Loa Fae Palmer, who went by Fae, sewed and painted. Her canvas paintings of forest and mountain scenes adorned the Palmers' home on Wednesday. Other craft projects went to family members, said Shauna Lee Gardner, another Palmer daughter.
Reed Palmer had retired from working as a Realtor and for Deseret Bakery. Fae Palmer had earlier worked at a floral shop.
The couple were in Orangeville, Emery County, on Sunday for a farewell celebration for their granddaughter, who is leaving for an LDS mission to Tucson, Ariz. Gardner said the couple left Orangeville about 2 p.m. Sunday to return to West Valley City.
Fae Palmer didn't like traveling on U.S. Highway 6 through Spanish Fork Canyon, and the couple must have decided to take State Road 29, Gardner said.
The couple's Cadillac became stuck in the snow on a gravel section of the road that authorities say is impassable in winter. The Emery County Sheriff's Office said a passer-by reported the abandoned car Monday afternoon.
On Tuesday, Emery County sheriff's deputies on snowmobiles followed footprints going west from the vehicle. Fae Palmer's body was found about three miles from the car. Her husband's body was about 3 1/2 miles from the car.
The Cadillac had gasoline in its tank, which makes authorities believe the couple began walking shortly after the car became stuck in the snow. Emery County Sheriff Lamar Guymon said they not wearing warm clothing.
The couple were walking toward Ephraim, about 30 miles away, and there are no houses or lodges along the way, Guymon said.