John Wallace (Wally) Palm 1935-2022
On Friday morning, Feb. 4, 2022, Wally passed away at his home in Sheridan, Wyoming with his wife and sole caregiver Louise by his side. He had endured the decline of Parkinson’s for the past eight years.
Wally was born to Frederick Nelson and Johnnie (Hazle) Palm on Dec. 16, 1935 at Stamford Texas and soon returned to the family ranch ten miles southeast of Albany, Texas. He was welcomed by grandmother Valina, Aunt Corinne, and brother Fred.
He grew up on the ranch doing the usual chores, hearing the many stories his grandmother related of frontier life, swimming in Hubbard Creek where one had to avoid the cottonmouths, and in Albany where his parents also had a house.
He attended school in Albany where his mother was a teacher for several years and joined his parents in attending Matthews Memorial Presbyterian Church.
Wally knew from an early age that he would become a rancher. As a teenager he was active in FFA and was named Lone Star Farmer of Texas, receiving his award in Houston and a letter from then Senator Lyndon Baines Johnson. Always an industrious person, he held part time jobs whereby he saved enough to buy his first car. His father told him the car would nickel him to death but Wally maintained his Dad was wrong as the car actually dollared him. The pranks of Wally and boyhood friend Bill Booker are legendary as are the stories of living next door to Travis Sears.
His parents purchased and moved to a ranch in Colorado in 1950; however Wally remained in Albany where he continued to work at the family ranch and attend high school, graduating in 1954. He then attended Colorado A&M, which became CSU during his time there, and joined AGR where he lived in the Chapter House, establishing great friendships and many fond memories. In 1958 he received his Bachelor of Science degree in animal production that was awarded by special guest Eleanor Roosevelt whose grandson was also a student at CSU.
Upon graduation he and fraternity brother Martin Lodge traveled to Florida and in a call back home learned his draft papers had arrived. He returned to Colorado, was inducted into the Army, went through Basic at Fort Hood (where Elvis Presley had just finished his training and gifted the barracks with a floor polishing machine) and was stationed at Fort Bliss for the remainder of his term. So much for traveling the world. During his time he became very interested in the stock market and spent a good deal of time in the Base library doing market research.
Following his release from the Army he returned to Colorado and joined his father in the ranching business. In 1960 Wally and his father drove up to Miles City, Montana to buy cattle. It was there they met Weldon Birdwell who showed them the old Fulton Ranch that had just come back on the market. They literally fell in love with the ranch located south of Ismay and made arrangements for its purchase. Wally ‘batched’ at the ranch until his parents sold and closed out the Colorado ranch and moved to Montana.
Shortly thereafter his mother was hospitalized in Baker and was introduced to a young lady by their doctor. When Wally visited his mother she introduced them and the attraction was mutual. After several months of courtship they married on Nov. 9, 1963 at the Presbyterian Church in Miles City. They observed 58 years of marriage this past November. Wally and Louise renovated a house two miles east of the ranch headquarters and lived there until 1979. At that time Wally’s parents had moved in to Baker so Wally and Louise renovated another house and moved to the headquarters where they lived for the next 23 years.
During their years at the ranch Wally applied his ranch background, education, exemplary skills, thrift, and business acumen toward being a successful rancher and landowner. His memories of working with Harold Jenrich, Lee Curry and Junior Collie were often recalled. Wally purchased a Cessna 172 and after obtaining his pilot’s license used the plane to check pastures and cattle along with having many memorable flights during 27 years of ownership. He built a Ham Radio and studied diligently to obtain a Ham Radio Operators License. Many hours on cold winter evenings were spent in contact with other Ham Operators both nationally and internationally. Acupuncture was first heard of when listening to Radio Peking being broadcast in English.
Wally claimed he enjoyed traveling as long as he could sleep in his own bed at night. Even so, they managed to enjoy half a dozen cruises, a couple trips to Europe, several to Mexico, attend NCA conventions, Investment Conferences, and meetings of Montana Livestock Ag Credit.
Wally served on the Board of MLACI for nearly 20 years and as Chairman 1996-1997. Wally thoroughly enjoyed the friendship and fellowship of the staff, directors and members. He was a member of the Billings Petroleum Club, former member of the Pilot’s Club in Baker, AOPA, Montana Stockgrowers Assn. and a former Fallon County Republican County chairman.
In 2002 the ranch at Ismay was sold and they retired to Sheridan, Wyoming where a new house was built on property they had purchased in 1994. Wally devoted the next several years to managing the investment portfolio, planting numerous trees and installing an extensive underground irrigation system. They joined Sheridan’s First Presbyterian Church where Wally served as an Elder. After purchasing a condo in Billings they opted to become members of the nearby First Presbyterian Church; however, the house in Sheridan has always remained their primary home.
Wally is survived by his wife Louise of Sheridan and Billings; cousins Peggy (Dr. Richard) Reed of New Orleans, Thomas Lee (Susie) Stalcup of Brownwood, TX; and brother in law Kenneth (Roberta) Smith.
Wally was preceded in death by his parents and brother Fred; also by a brother James Conrad who died in 1934.
Wally returned to Albany for burial in the family plot in Albany Cemetery, with graveside services by Matthews Memorial Presbyterian Church.
Online condolences may be written at www.kanefuneral.com. Kane Funeral Home has been entrusted with local arrangements.