Eight Bells for Rick Palm PDF Print Email
Tuesday, February 28, 2023 02:49 PM

Eight Bells for Rick Palm: Gramp Rick's a Good Guy

Richard Victor “ Rick” Palm died on February 28, 2023 at his home in Hardyville VA. His friends and family will remember him for his spirit of adventure and his dedication to “giving back” to those who shared his passions. His passions were many but sailing across oceans and wood-working top the list. He believed strongly in experiential learning and seeks to leave his legacy to programs that encourage kids to learn with their hands.

His epitaph was unknowingly created by his Grandson Owen years ago at age three, when he earnestly confided in his father, saying… “Grandpa Rick’s a good guy.” Out of the mouth of babes!

Rick was born near Halifax, Nova Scotia in 1945 in what was then known as a “foundling home.” His birth name was Rayburn Hoddinut; his Birth Mother was from Newfoundland. At six months old, he was adopted and renamed by Victor and Pansy Palm from Brooklyn NY. He became a US citizen in high school and lived in Brooklyn until he enlisted in the Air Force in 1967. A highlight of his childhood was the family’s annual summer vacation in New London CT where he learned to sail.

His sailing adventures spanned over 50 years and took Rick and his wife Julie around the world, across the Atlantic twice, to and from the Caribbean a dozen times, and up and down the coast of North America from Nova Scotia to the Keys. He relished nothing more than helping coastal sailors prepare for their first offshore passages, both with the Caribbean 1500 and the Salty Dawg Sailing Association. He was honored to receive a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Salty Dawgs in 2022.

Whether refining his Crocodile Dundee/Indiana Jones image in the outback of Australia, reeling in a gigantic mahi-mahi in the middle of the Gulf Stream, or installing the latest must-have gadget on the boat, Rick attacked each new venture with gusto, dedicated to expanding the “bandwidth of his brain,” as he would often say.

On land, Rick developed his skills as a wood turner and wood worker. He taught wood turning at The Woodturning School in Damariscotta ME and served on the board of The Apprenticeship, a boat-building school, in Rockland ME. On his lathe, he created works of art ranging from pepper mills and bowls, to platters and Christmas tree ornaments. He and Julie built furniture each winter, starting with Craftsman designs for their home in Maine and evolving to more modern pieces for their home in Virginia. Isolation during the pandemic was no problem …. Just an opportunity to build a Peapod rowing boat in the shop.

He frequently said that he was “working to live” rather than “living to work,” but that being said, he enjoyed a long and successful career in sales and marketing management for several health care companies. When he and Julie took a “mid-career sabbatical” to circumnavigate in 1990-1992, Rick discovered that managing a sailboat around the world was excellent training for starting his own business. So, when they returned, he started a business assembling computer cables in the Boston area. He earned his private pilot’s license and flew up and down the East Coast, servicing customers from Alabama to New England. He sold the company in 2002.

Dedication to family was a dominant part of Rick’s life. While his parents died before he was in his 30’s and he was an only child, he adopted Julie’s family quickly, enjoying sailing trips with her Father and raising Julie’s son Ted as his own. Nothing pleased him more than watching his two grandsons Owen and Eli mature into young adults. Rick tried valiantly to encourage Ted, Ted’s wife Rebecca, Owen and Eli to share his passion for sailing. Only Eli seems to have taken the bait and has enjoyed many Junior Week adventures at the Fishing Bay Yacht Club in Deltaville. The Virgin Islands, both British and American, were special family cruising grounds on vacations none will ever forget.

Recently, when asked how he would like to be remembered, Rick was clear … he wants to be remembered as a part of the intimate relationship he and Julie forged together in their 40 year marriage. Whether as a duo sailing across oceans, as four hands working in concert on a furniture-building project, or, in the end, as focused problem-solvers facing the challenges of his advancing cancer, they learned to complement each other’s very contrasting styles. “If there are two ways to do something, Julie will do it one way and I’ll do it the other,” he would often say, and then add “And over time, we learned that the give-and-take result was better than either of the ways we each started with.”

In the seven years since Rick was diagnosed with cancer, he became a “poster boy” for how to live with cancer as a chronic disease. Nothing stopped him from participating in family events, designing creative shop projects, or going places on the water. He learned from the many medical professionals who teamed up to add quality years to his life and was probably the most compliant patient they ever had. Hoping to advance treatments for future cancer patients, he participated in a clinical trial for a new immunotherapy drug after the FDA-approved options available to him had been exhausted. In the end, he made the decision to stop treatment and enter hospice care on his own timetable.

To those wishing to acknowledge Rick’s life, please consider contributing a donation in his name to the Chesapeake Bay Foundation. www.cbf.org. The Chesapeake Bay Foundation is a non-profit organization devoted to the restoration and protection of the Bay … one of Rick’s favorite cruising grounds.