Hall of Famer Wendell Palmer dies at 85; ‘Coach’ set many WRs

Wendell also won the Lad Pataki Award for lifetime achievement as a masters thrower.

A great man has left this earth. Sad word arrives that Masters Hall of Famer Wendell Palmer, known as “Coach,” who set more than 20 age-group WRs in his amazing throwing career, died Feb. 23 in his home of Pampa, Texas. The discus specialist was 85. “In 2002, Coach was inducted into the Texas Senior Games Hall of Fame, honored by the Panhandle Sports Hall of Fame with a special achievement award, and in 2017 was honored with the USA Track and Field Lad Pataki Lifetime Merit Award,” said one obituary. Last August, he was subject of a great profile, which noted: “One of Wendell’s proudest accomplishments was teaching his mother, Margaret Palmer White, to throw shot put when she was 97. White received some notoriety of her own, and the two were flown to Burbank, Calif., where White was on ‘The Tonight Show with Jay Leno.’ In 2007, doctors found a noncancerous spot on his lungs. Late last year, he had pneumonia for a month and a half, and he’s now accompanied by an oxygen tank for most of the day.” I met him at nationals, and he was greeted like a king among fellow throwers.

The profile added:

Palmer said he’s lost a lot of muscle and hasn’t thrown since 2010.

And, though he’s in a nursing home, Palmer said he wants to compete again.

“I’m going to get out there and do a little throwing and see what I can do,” he said. “I’m still looking forward to winning somewhere down the line if I can do it.”

Here’s his obituary at Winegeart Funeral Home:

Wendell Lawrence “Coach” Palmer, 85, of Pampa went home to be with His Savior and beloved wife on Friday, February 23, 2018 in Pampa. He entered this life, the youngest of ten children, on April 22, 1932 in Liberal, Kansas to Elmore and Margaret Palmer.

Coach was raised and graduated high school in Kansas. He served his beloved country in the Kansas National Guard from 1949 to 1954 then joined the United States Air Force and served an additional four years from 1954 to 1958. He went on the receive his Bachelor of Science in Physical Education and Master of Science degrees from Fort Hayes State University in 1961.

Wendell married the love of his life, Barbara Hines, on August 18, 1962 in Perryton and they enjoyed 55 amazing years together while raising three children. Although he has lived in numerous places, he has lived approximately 38 years in Pampa. In 1979, he relocated his family here and has served the community as a Middle School and High School teacher and coach. He personally taught thousands of students Life Science, Driver’s Education, and Track and Field up until his retirement in 2002 but continued his service as a substitute teacher for several more years.

He is most widely known in Pampa simply as “Coach,” which embodies his passionate desire to help young athletes excel in Track and Field. He was very athletic from his youth and continued to participate in Master’s Track and Field until he was 80 years old.

He was an All-American discus thrower while in college. Since 1973, he remained a fierce competitor within the Master’s Track and Field program holding world records in the discus, shot put, and pentathlon. His love for Track and Field was less of a hobby and more of a life pursuit.

However, he did have a hobby of collecting gold medals at track meets. In 2002, Coach was inducted into the Texas Senior Games Hall of Fame, honored by the Panhandle Sports Hall of Fame with a special achievement award, and in 2017 was honored with the USA Track and Field Lad Pataki Lifetime Merit Award.

Coach Palmer was a selfless and devoted husband, father, and teacher. He dedicated his adult life to the pursuit of improving himself and those around him. Wendell was the most happy and cheerful person, loving to show his joy by whistling and singing.

He was one of God’s true masterpieces and loved God with all of his heart. He had the kindest of hearts, a perfect example of a Godly man and a genuinely compassionate human being. Wendell would see the good in people even when others only saw the bad.

Having a servant’s heart, he was exceptionally generous and giving, especially when it came to honoring his marriage vows. For better or worse, when the health of his wife began to decline and she needed it the most, he was steadfastly by her side until her relocation to Heaven on October 5, 2017.

Wendell loved his wife and children dearly, was a great provider, and supported them in all endeavors.

Coach had a wonderful, witty sense of humor, especially with Barbara, the tandem where truly quite the characters. He enjoyed being able to extend his teaching abilities to lead a Sunday School class at the Carpenter’s Church. Being very intelligent, he loved to work on crossword puzzles and read the newspaper, especially the sports section.

He was an aficionado of the consumption of sweets.

He is preceded in death by his parents; precious wife, Barbara; three brothers, Charles Palmer, Donald Palmer, Dean Palmer; five sisters, Clara Griggs, Eunice Pool, Margaret Parmelee, Edna Olinger and Lois Farmer.

Wendell is survived by his two sons, David Palmer and wife Sonya of Austin, Dr. Tom Palmer and wife Charolette of Atoka, Tennessee; daughter, Patricia Young of Pampa; six grandchildren, Brennen Young, Cole Young, Dakota Young, Nicholas Palmer, Sarah Palmer, Krystel Shealey; four great grandchildren, Brayden Young, Adiyala Shealey, Preston Shealey, Triston Shealey; his only living sibling, a sister, Florence Herring; numerous aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, and cousins.

As an expression of sympathy, the family suggests memorials be made to Kids, Inc., 2201 SE 27th Ave., Amarillo, TX 79103, www.kidsinc.org/amarillo.

Celebration of Life Memorial Services are scheduled for 2:00 p.m., Thursday, March 1, 2018 at The Carpenter’s Church with Brother Jim Sinyard officiating. A private family inurnment will take place Friday, March 2, 2018 at Kismet Cemetery in Kismet, Kansas.

The family has entrusted the cremation care of their loved one to Winegeart Funeral Home.

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February 28, 2018

3 Responses

  1. wayne bennett - March 1, 2018

    One of the truly great ones in this world. Wendell and I shared many a good time at meets even though I was a sprinter. He was a long time member of the Dallas Masters Track and Field Club. A great supporter of all athletes and a lot of fun to be around.

  2. Jeff Harrell - March 5, 2018

    In 2001 I was at my 3rd meet to ever throw the discus. I was learning. I saw Wendell warming up and I told my wife, ” that guy can throw a discus.” I watched every move he made with the discus. We became good friends over the years. He was a super guy.

  3. Tom Fahey - March 13, 2018

    Wendell was one of the greatest masters throwers of all-time. He threw well consistently for 40 years. More importantly, he was a fine gentleman and a gracious competitor. We have lost a great athlete and a wonderful human being.

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