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Mamie's Story

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"Red" Palmer was born Mamie Alma Nester in Hillsville, Virginia on 1 January 1922. She was the oldest of three and grew up on a small family farm. One of her earliest memories was riding behind her younger brother on the family plow horse. Life was hard sometimes but she never felt poor or disadvantaged. She was teased at school for having freckles and red hair and the nickname "Red" stuck throughout her life. She and her cousins climbed trees, made forts, played outside on sleds in winter and in the cold mountain streams in the summer. When they were made to come inside, they listened to radio and she dreamed of being a dancer. When she was 19 she got a job at the Camp Pickett, VA, Exchange. Camp Pickett was a deployment post for the U.S. Army and there she met a young infantry soldier named J.R. Palmer, from Muskogee, OK. It was love at first sight, and they would marry in Los Angeles, CA after WWII. J.R. coming home after being liberated from a German Prison camp and Mamie working at an aircraft plant in L.A. riveting the leading wing covers on fighter aircraft. Soldier boy and Red the riveter. They returned to Muskogee to make their home. Daughter B.J. was born a year later. Red worked at a number of jobs, even taught herself bookkeeping, but her first love was being a beauty operator. She opened a one chair shop in their converted den on York Street and in a few years owned a large shop two blocks north on York. She and her dear "girls" Anna, Marion, Jean, Carol, Connie (her "daughters by other mothers) made Muskogee beautiful for over 40 years. Red and J.R. were active members of Grace Episcopal Church where she helped with the acolyte program, Sunday school, Women of Grace and baking for countless coffee hours with her special pal, Catherine Blackwell. When she finally retired, she continued to be a faithful member of American Ex-Prisoners of War, she fed the birds, (especially the hummingbirds) gardened, travelled, practiced Tai Chi and Yoga, supported PAWS, and continued to "help out at the shop".
She was predeceased by her mother, Retta Lee Nester; sister, Edith; brother, Howard; and her beloved J.R.
She is survived by her dear sister, Asterie Holt of Powhatan, VA; best cousin, Ann Dalton of Blackstone, VA; niece, Mericia Boyles and Husband Larry of Dillwyn, VA; numerous great nieces, nephews and cousins; Daughter, B.J. Charbonneau and husband John of Okay, OK; Five Grandchildren, Terry Charbonneau, wife, Lorna, and great granddaughters, Erin and Lauren of San Diego, CA; Evelyn Charbonneau, partner, Ben and great granddaughter, Brittany and husband Trent of Desert Hills, AZ; Ken Charbonneau of Seattle, WA; Sylvia Charbonneau and great grandson, Brandon of Phoenix, AZ; and Jamie Charbonneau and partner Cole of Kelmscott, Western Australia.
In lieu of flowers the family request memorials be made to Grace Episcopal Church at: http://www.gracemuskogee.org/giving/, PAWS Muskogee at: http://pawsforadoption.com/donations.html, or Salvation Army of Muskogee at: https://secure20.salvationarmy.org/donation.jsp.
A graveside service will be 10:00 A.M., Thursday, February 22, 2018 at Fort Gibson National Cemetery with Father Bob Wickizer officiating. A church conducted Holy Communion Service will be 2:00 P.M., Thursday, February 22, 2018 at Grace Episcopal Church with a reception to follow in Parish Hall.
The graveside service is under the direction of Cornerstone Funeral Home, 1830 N. York Street, Muskogee, Oklahoma. Condolences may be made to the family online at www.cornerstoneofmuskogee.com.
Published on February 21, 2018
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