Dean Palmer of Excelsior, MN, passed away on March 8, 2023 at age 78. He had been diagnosed with Primary Progressive Aphasia, a type of frontotemporal dementia that affects speech and communication.
Dean was born September 11, 1944 in Chicago, IL to Evelyn and Wilson “Bill” Palmer. He was raised in Chillicothe, OH with his four siblings. After earning his undergraduate degree from Oberlin College and his PhD in physics from Brown University, he began his career as a nuclear physicist. He had postdoctoral positions at the University of Liverpool, England, and at the University of Minnesota, where he “smashed atoms,” as he described it to his family. He was an expert in the field of magnetic recording, developing the technology used to store data on computer hard drives, first working at IBM in Rochester, MN for 20 years and later at Seagate in the Twin Cities. His daughter Allison was born in 1977 and his daughter Becca was born in 1982. He married his wife, Helen, in 1997.
Dean loved spending time outdoors, going on walks, biking, traveling, camping, cross-country skiing, bird watching, kayaking, and soccer. He could fix anything in the house and was famous for the ingenious contraptions he built. Dean looked at a problem as something to be solved. He was a dedicated volunteer, working to make the world a better place for future generations through the Sierra Club and electoral campaigns. In retirement he led a landscape renewal project for his community, putting to use both his love of gardening and his gift for organizing. Dean was a beloved husband, brother, father, stepfather, uncle, and Grandpa Dean to his grandchildren. His sense of humor, his deep and sincere care for others, and his slightly mischievous smile will be missed dearly by his family and friends.
Dean was preceded in death by his parents, Evelyn and Wilson. Dean is survived by his wife, Helen; daughters Allison and Becca (Jess); stepdaughter Emily French (Hoach); grandchildren Cady and Eli French; and siblings Kent, Lane, Anne Newman, and Jill Clutter, and their spouses, children, and grandchildren.
A celebration of life will be held at Excelsior United Methodist Church on March 25 at 2 p.m. In lieu of flowers, donations in his honor may be made to support the The Sierra Club North Star Chapter, Gale Woods Farm, or the Association for Frontotemporal Degeneration (AFTD).