Currie Palmer

Obituary of Currie Palmer

Henry Currie Palmer October 1935 – July 2022 It is with broken hearts that we announce Currie’s sudden unexpected death from natural causes in late July. Currie was born in Moncton New Brunswick to Henry (‘Harry’) and Marguerite Palmer (Currie) and had a much-loved sister, Barbara Shaw (Bill) all of whom predeceased him. His father grew up in Montreal. Currie had four Palmer cousins, Bill, Patrick, Peter, and Audrey, all now deceased. For years many of Palmer family and friends congregated in Barrie, at the home of Patrick and his wife Cecilia’s daughter, Theresa (Palmer) and Joe Zadra for ‘The Palmer Invitational’, a golf tournament, played to their own rules. They set off in a long convoy of golf carts. Later there was a feast and prizes. Currie usually won ‘most honest golfer’ i.e., the highest score. The Palmer family has four generations of airline pilots, and Currie himself learned to fly. His mother was from the South Shore of Nova Scotia. She had a brother, Lauchlin Currie, a renowned economist in the U.S. and Colombia, whose daughter, Elizabeth Currie (Alonso Peñaranda), is Currie’s surviving cousin. His sister Barbara and her husband Bill Shaw had six children. These nieces and nephews and their families are scattered. Harry Shaw and Joanne Shaw Plazzer (Louis) are in British Columbia; Elizabeth Shaw MacGillivray (Brian), Bill Shaw (Sandra) and Edie Shaw Ewald (Michael) are in Nova Scotia, and Margaret Shaw Chernosky (Joseph) lives in Maine. Currie loved and stayed in touch with them all. Currie was educated at Moncton High School, and during later high school summers he assisted the field work of his brother-in-law, Bill Shaw, who was Chair of the Geology Department at St Francis Xavier University in Antigonish, Nova Scotia. Since Geology looked like fun, Currie went on to study the subject at the same institution. After graduating, he was accepted by Princeton University into the Department of Geosciences to pursue a Ph.D. Subsequently, Currie took up a postdoctoral position at the University of Western Ontario in the Department of Geophysics (now Earth Sciences) and, soon after, joined the faculty where he remained until his retirement at the age of 65. As an Emeritus Professor he maintained an office space and engaged in departmental life. After his retirement Currie volunteered to drive for the Canadian Cancer Society for almost 15 years, up until the COVID epidemic. Currie made many lifelong friends throughout his academic career, in particular Bill MacDonald. They met at Princeton. Bill had a faculty position in New York State. Both the Curries and MacDonalds are part of the Scottish Clan Ranald and each summer these two ‘clansmen’ and fellow paleo volcanologist would load up a truck and head off to drill holes in rocks in Nevada, driving up rough, sagebrush-scented roads to camp in the high desert. This was a very successful and enjoyable research collaboration. Currie had a wealth of experience in field work around the world. He told of sleeping in the Atacama Desert, where the stars felt close enough to touch, and of lying awake in a tent in the Arctic because the sled dogs outside howled all night. He was a superb canoeist, having been taught by an Inuit guide. Closer to home, in the late 1960’s and 70’s he skied, sailed, and drove a series of English sports cars, until importing spare parts eventually became prohibitive. He also started playing tennis. In the late 1980s Currie met Marguerite Kane, a botanist, who conveniently also played tennis, and a new and very happy phase of each of their lives began. During this time, the Palmer flying gene asserted itself and Currie, a long-time member of the London Flying Club, fulfilled a dream and bought a little Cessna: GGVL, affectionately known as ‘Golfie’. Currie was in his element in the sky; the poem ‘High Flight’ always brought tears to his eyes. Currie and Marguerite took many flights locally, and to Nova Scotia, Calgary, and Maine. In 1995 they married and to his delight Currie became stepfather, ‘Bonus Dad’, to Rowan (Lubke) and his sister Ildi (Hall). He loved having a family. When Ildi’s three boys were born (Keagan, Connor, and Coen) he was delighted and fascinated by these rambunctious, athletic lads. More recently, he happily welcomed Rowan’s partner Tara (Bissett), into the family. When it was time to say goodbye to ‘Golfie’, Marguerite and Currie embarked on another adventure, buying a tiny hideaway in Suffolk, UK. They spent several months of the year there. It was a special place for them, near Currie’s beloved sea and where they have good friends and neighbours. This little base enabled them to explore the UK and travel to Europe. It was also here that Marguerite, who was awaiting Currie’s arrival within a couple of weeks, got the shocking news from their truly wonderful London neighbours of his sudden death and rushed home. Currie was a man of integrity; a modest, kind, loving and thoughtful man, and a loyal friend. He and Marguerite so enjoyed their life together. They took great care of and supported each other, tolerating each other’s idiosyncrasies. He was supportive and helpful to all his family, many friends, and neighbours. He loved food and cooking, often hosting small get-togethers of friends and colleagues. A talented woodworker, he made beautiful furniture for their extended home. Under Marguerite’s tutelage he became a diligent under gardener but claimed not to recognize weeds. Currie described himself to one neighbour as ‘the landlord of birds’, referring to the sparrows in the many birdhouses on the barn in their garden. He enjoyed all the wildlife that flew, hopped, or trotted into this quiet space. Others have described him as a gentleman, a fine man, and a man of true class and character. He was all of these, and well liked and respected by his colleagues at UWO. What are we all going to do without him? We contribute the idea of an afterglow; as long as there are people alive who knew him, his afterglow will live on. Currie was an afficionado of Obituaries – we hope that we have done him justice in this small snapshot of his life. Please drink a toast to Currie for a life well lived and all that he accomplished. As one little grandson once said, ‘Good job Cuwwie’. Marguerite, Ildi, Tara and Rowan. Cremation has taken place. As per Currie’s wishes, a small, family gathering will be arranged at a later date. We would like to thank all those who helped him travel on to the next part of his journey for their kindness and compassion, in particular our neighbours and London Cremation Services. Our deepest gratitude to the medical personnel in London who have taken such good care of him at various times of his life in London, most recently Dr. N. Power and Dr. P. Jayatilaka. Expressions of sympathy may be made through London Cremation Services (519) 672-0459 or online at In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Earth Sciences Field School Fund, at Western University; attention Kendra Lealess, Western University, Westminster Hall, Suite 110, 1151 Richmond St. London, ON N6A 3K7 (cheques payable to Western University) or by calling 519-661-4200 or online at
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