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Former Budgeteer publisher Dick Palmer dies at 88

Longtime West Duluth resident Richard "Dick" Palmer, 88, died Thursday, Dec. 27 at New Perspective Senior Living in Superior. Palmer was best known as the editor and publisher of the Budgeteer, where he worked in various positions for 60 years. D...

Former Duluth Budgeteer publisher/editor Richard "Dick" Palmer died Thursday, Dec. 27. (Photo submitted)
Former Duluth Budgeteer publisher/editor Richard "Dick" Palmer died Thursday, Dec. 27. (Photo submitted)

Longtime West Duluth resident Richard "Dick" Palmer, 88, died Thursday, Dec. 27 at New Perspective Senior Living in Superior.
Palmer was best known as the editor and publisher of the Budgeteer, where he worked in various positions for 60 years. Dick's father Herb Palmer started the West Duluth-based community newspaper in 1931. Dick started his Budgeteer career at age 12, on cleanup duty in the office.
After serving as a captain in the Minnesota National Guard, Dick moved to advertising and writing at the paper in 1955. He shifted to the position of editor/publisher in 1982 where he remained until 1995, when the paper was sold to the Superior Telegram and eventually to Murphy McGinnis Media.
As editor, Dick was known for his columns, where he addressed reader concerns about everything from dealing with neighbor issues, to the city's move to add chlorine to the water, to the city's future.
"He was a real advocate for the people," his sister Phyllis Ranzinger said. "If you had a problem, he'd try to solve it."
Nowhere was this more evident than his weekly "Action Editor" columns, a tradition started by his father, which came with the description: "This column is dedicated to solving problems, getting answers, cutting red tape. We'll stand up for your rights."

"He liked to help people wherever he could," said Rick Palmer, Dick's son. "That was his true passion. That's why he wrote and why he ran for government later."

Dick continued to write these mostly conservative-leaning columns even after the paper was sold, through September 2008.
In 1970, at the age of 40, Dick ran for state Senate in the 59th District and held the office until 1973.

His tenure in the senate was a rocky one - the 1971 senate was split evenly with exactly 33 conservatives to 33 liberals with the 67th seat held by Dick. He ran as an independent and promised to vote independently on each issue but to caucus with the majority. Since there was no majority party, both sides vied for his vote.

"He was getting calls from Hubert Humphrey and all the prominent leaders trying to persuade him to their side," Rick said. "He knew it was a no-win situation because no matter what, one side was going to be against him."
In the end, following an attempt to unseat him by his opponent, Palmer primarily voted with the conservatives during his two-year tenure. He planned to run again, but found his area was redistricted in such a way that cut out West Duluth, his primary voter base.

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"He would have been running on the Iron Range against Rudy Perpich which would have been impossible," Rick said. "He almost considered moving the family so that we'd be in his old district, but he decided against it and went back to focusing on the paper."

Years later, Palmer planned to write a book about the tumultuous time in the senate.
A 1948 graduate of Denfeld High School, Palmer was inducted into the school's alumni Hunter Hall of Fame in 2012. Nominees are selected for their involvement in the school's traditions, community and activities. Palmer was a football player, gymnast and baseball player during his time at Denfeld.
Palmer married his highschool sweetheart Joyce Anderson and spent 64 years together prior to her death in 2016. The couple raised two children, Rick and Cheryl.

One of Palmer's passions outside of work and serving the community was keeping in touch with family members. He organized family barbecues and spent many hours writing letters to loved ones.

A visitation for Dick Palmer will be held at 11 a.m. with a memorial service to follow at noon on Saturday, Jan. 19 at Grace Lutheran Church, 5454 Miller Trunk Highway, Hermantown.

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