Cover photo for David Ralph Palmer's Obituary
David Ralph Palmer Profile Photo
1944 David 2022

David Ralph Palmer

February 18, 1944 — September 30, 2022


David Ralph Palmer, 78, of Marshall, went home to be with his Lord and Savior on Friday, September 30, 2022, at home surrounded by his loving family.

He was born on February 18, 1944, to Ralph and Dorothy (Heckethorne) Palmer in Battle Creek.

Dave graduated from Battle Creek Lakeview High School in 1962. He attended Ferris State College where he earned an Associate of Applied Sciences in 1964.  He then attended Western Michigan University and earned his Bachelor of Science in 1969, majoring in Special Education and Library Science. He graduated from Western with a Master of Arts in special education and learning disabilities in 1977.

On February 9, 1974 he married his sweetheart, Jewell May, at Calvary Baptist Church in Marshall. He chased her for four years until she slowed down enough so he could catch her! They celebrated 48 years together this past February with a family trip to California to meet his newest grandson, James Palmer.

As a child, Dave attended Battle Creek Bible Church and South Side Bible Church in Battle Creek. After moving to Marshall, he was a member of the former Calvary Baptist Church and was a founding member of Grace Baptist of Marshall. In his last three churches, he started church libraries. He served as a Sunday School teacher, directed Christmas programs and worked with youth outreach, served as CE Director, served as a board member including as chairman, and served on a number of other committees over the years.

Dave was an active member of many organizations, and took on a variety of leadership roles in service to the community and his profession. Dave was a member of the Michigan Education Association, the National Education Association, and the Marshall Teachers Association, serving as the association's representative for the United Way fundraiser.  He was also a member of Michigan Association of Learning Disabilities Educators, a member of the Michigan Chapter of Exceptional Children, Battle Creek Chapter (serving as president) and a past member of Michigan Educators Christian Fellowship (serving as Treasurer and President). He also was a Charter member of Friends of Marshall District Library (serving as Treasurer and President).

Dave taught students with learning disabilities and cognitive impairments at Marshall High School for 40 years. Working with teenagers who had limitations in reading, spelling and mathematical skills brought him joy and fulfillment. Beginning in 1985, he began a private tutoring business to serve the Battle Creek and Marshall communities. He also worked with senior citizens at Maplewood of Marshall. In all, he worked with more than 150 individuals to strengthen their basic math and reading skills.  One of his many accomplishments was the introduction of community-based instruction in 2003 which provided opportunities to place students into work-related settings to develop learning skills used in everyday life. Because of this successful program, Dave received the Superintendent's Award for Outstanding Contributions in the area of Community/School Relations in 2008. He was also recognized by the Maplewood of Marshall Corporation for coordinating placement of students at that facility.

Dave was an avid reader, especially non-fiction. He enjoyed traveling within the United States. In the earlier years he enjoyed tent camping with family and in his later years he found he enjoyed travel with the luxury of a hotel room. Dave never met a stranger; everyone who knew him understood Dave loved conversation! He enjoyed watching his children and grandchildren playing various sports and participating in different activities.

Dave is survived by his loving wife; Jewell, his three sons; Nathan Palmer of Marshall, Seth (Kami) Palmer of Holland, Jared (Jeannie) Palmer of San Francisco, CA, his unofficial son; Matt (Kendra) Harmon of Marshall, his grandchildren; Reese, Brecken, Elijah, Auden, and James Palmer, Reagan and Oakley Harmon, his brother; Jon (Amy) Palmer of Omaha, NE, and his niece and nephew; Becca Palmer and Jacob Palmer of Omaha, NE.

He was preceded in death by his parents; and an infant son; Jeremy Palmer.

Visitation will take place on Wednesday, October 5, 2022, from 4:00 pm - 7:00 pm at Kempf Family Funeral & Cremation Services, 723 US Hwy 27 N, Marshall, Michigan.

Funeral services for Dave will be held on Thursday, October 6, 2022, at 11:00 am with visitation from 10:00 - 11:00 am at Grace Baptist Church in Marshall. Pastor Brandon Crawford, officiating. Burial will follow at Oakridge Cemetery in Marshall.

Memorials are suggested to Grace Baptist Church or the Marshall District Library.

Please visit to view the online obituary, to sign the online guest book or to leave the family condolences.

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of David Ralph Palmer, please visit our flower store.


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