On Friday January 15, 2021, Hugh John Palmer, loving husband of Beth and father of Stephanie, Kirrily (deceased) and Anna, passed away at the age of 77.
Hugh’s generosity of spirit, patience, kindness to others and his wise, intelligent, thought-provoking conversations were enjoyed by many in the community.
After a three-and half-month battle with pancreatitis, Hugh’s passing was an extraordinarily sad day.
It is difficult to convey just how much family and friends will miss this compassionate and empathetic man.
Hugh was the eldest child born to Ronald and Betty Palmer in Sydney on December 26, 1943.
Not long after Hugh’s birth, the family moved to Boggabri.
Hugh has three siblings, Gillian, Michael and Sally.
Hugh’s mother Betty passed away when he was 17, and his father Ronald later married Margaret.
Throughout Hugh’s life he was very close to Thelma, employed by the family as a housekeeper, and Thelma became more like a second mother to the children.
When Hugh in later years met Beth Collins, it was the beginning of a lifelong romance.
The couple were married in 1967, and Stephanie was born in 1971, Kirrily in 1973, and Anna in 1974.
Kirrily sadly passed away when she was 13-weeks-old.
Hugh and Beth had 53 years of happy married life and were proud of their family and devoted to their grandchildren Kieran, Cameron and Lucy.
Stephanie and Anna have many fond memories of their father.
From childhood through to adulthood they believed there could be no better father than Hugh, with his deep-thinking and avid interest in so many areas, his kindness and generosity, and his wonderful sense of humour.
Hugh studied law through the Solicitors Admission Board, and his first job was at Manning & Abbott Solicitors in Narrabri after being admitted as a solicitor in 1965.
This company later became H.J. Palmer and Co.
There he worked until retirement in June 2016, devoting over 50 years of his life to serving the people of Narrabri and surrounds.
Hugh was a fifth-generation lawyer.
It is an interesting piece of history that Hugh’s great-great-grandfather, James Hugh Palmer, arrived in Australia in 1840 from the British Parliament to organise a Parliamentary Reporting System, now known as Hansard.
Before this time, James is also believed to have worked in England with Charles Dickens in compiling a shorthand technique.
Many of Hugh’s interests are remembered in the Narrabri community, coffee with his friends, frequenting all the coffee shops in town, and turning up to friends’ homes with takeaway coffee in hand.
Hugh’s love of music with a vast and varied collection of his own, was heard at many a dinner party held at the Palmer home.
Hugh enjoyed attending Tim Vaughan’s gym and the camaraderie with bootcamp activities ranging from towing Tim’s truck through to jumping through tractor tyres.
Hugh would also go cycling out of town along the Killarney Gap Road, often with no phone reception and kangaroos jumping around, with no thought to his safety.
He was an inland sailor of windsurfers and lasers, frequenting Yarrie Lake or Keepit Dam.
Hugh’s aeronautical interests ranged from flying gliders to making remote control helicopters and planes.
On the amusing side, he was involved in the only remote-control plane head-on crash in Narrabri.
Hugh was a member of the Narrabri bushwalking club from its inception, walking through Kaputar National Park, canoeing, and even abseiling down the Narrabri water towers.
He went on several bush trips with Harry Butler exploring outback Australia and learning about Indigenous culture.
Harry Butler was an Australian naturalist and environmental consultant, best known as the presenter of the ABC television series In the Wild.
Unbeknown to some, Hugh had a deep interest in science, reading scientific journals and gaining an intricate understanding of topics ranging from molecular biology through to evolution, astronomy and quantum computing.
Hugh enjoyed the friendships he made with his involvement in Apex and Rotary, serving on the Narrabri Hospital Board and the board of Frank Whiddon Masonic Homes.
Hugh was on the inaugural committee to establish the Law Faculty at the University of New England.
He was more recently involved in the setting up of the Country Universities Centre in Narrabri.
During his impressive career, Hugh served as vice president of the North and North West Law Society and later received the honour of becoming an Elder Statesman of the Law in North West NSW.
He was made a life member of The Law Society of NSW for his contributions to the profession.
Hugh was an innovator in the world of technology, and H.J. Palmer and Co was the first legal firm outside the Sydney metropolitan area to install a word processor.
He was also renowned for being the first solicitor to prepare his own precedents in legal documents for use on the word processor, which were, at the time, much sought after by other lawyers.
Hugh’s office was fondly known by his staff as the most desired place to work.
He generously offered his wisdom and patience in imparting knowledge to his staff, taking the girls out to lunch or providing morning teas.
An array of cakes would be personally collected from local cafes by Hugh and delivered to the office with the girls asked to put the kettle on.
The staff, notably Barbara McNamara, the late Sue Foster, Sally Noy, Beth Kelaher, Jenny Hughes, and Cathy Eather have fond memories of Hugh as a wonderful person to work for, considerate, welcoming and a true gentleman, who gained the utmost respect of all those who knew him.
Hugh showed generosity to not only his employees, but also to his clients, and it was not unusual to see him perform pro bono legal work for clients who could not afford to pay.
In the office and in the courtroom, Hugh’s professionalism was only surpassed by his kindness, generosity and compassion.
In his retirement years, Hugh could be found still bushwalking, cycling and heading off to the gym, always followed by a leisurely morning coffee with friends, where conversations ensued that will be remembered by many.
The celebrant at Hugh’s funeral was Hugh’s cousin, Rev Carl Palmer, Anglican priest of Wellington, NSW, and was assisted by Beth’s brother, retired Anglican priest Rev Chris Collins.
Hugh is survived by his wife Beth, daughters Stephanie and Anna and grandchildren Kieran, Cameron and Lucy.
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Hugh’s great-great grandfather, James Hugh Palmer, arrived in Australia in 1840 from the British Parliament to organise a Parliamentary Reporting System, now known as Hansard.
Beth Palmer outside The Palmer Room at the Tourist Hotel, named in honour of Hugh. Hugh’s former office has been transformed into a private dining room.
Hugh Palmer’s law reference books at the Webb & Boland office.