Fruit Heights senior spotlight: Elaine Harvey PalmerSep 02, 2022 11:23AM ● By Karen Painter
One of Fruit Height’s longest residents is Elaine Harvey Palmer. She turned 81 last March and has lived on a part of her father’s original farm for most of her life.
She was born March 18, 1941, to Brigham and Ruth Hill Harvey. Her father raised Hereford cows and farmed alfalfa. He helped bring clean culinary and irrigation water to Kaysville and Fruit Heights.
“I went with him in the old, blue-paneled truck to Haight’s Creek Hollow,” Palmer said. “He made me stay in the truck as he cleaned moss out of the headgates and treated it with chemicals. He wanted to protect me, so I think that’s why he didn’t let me go to the creek with him.”
Palmer’s mother, Ruth Harvey, was a spitfire. As a girl, her mother lived in Syracuse and rode the bus to Davis High. “Mother told me she used to ‘rock the bus.’ I am not surprised.” Palmer laughed.
Palmer’s mother was a teacher in Ogden and Layton. She announced to Palmer and her two closest sisters they were to follow.
“Mom told us we were going to be teachers, we didn’t have a choice, so we all graduated as teachers,” Palmer said.
Palmer graduated from Davis High School in 1959, then attended Weber College and Utah State University. After college, she took a job as a home economics teacher at San Juan High School in Blanding, Utah, 329 miles away.
One night after parent/teacher meetings, Palmer came home to see her roommates talking with a lanky, fair-haired young man named Jack Palmer.
“He told me later he knew from that first look that I was going to be the girl he would marry,” she said.
Jack asked her to ride up the mountain. She remembers he wore a Russian coat someone gave him. She had no idea at the time the influence the Russian people would have on her life.
Jack and Elaine dated for the rest of the school year. The next summer, Jack told Elaine he was moving to Cedar City to attend college.
“So, I called Cedar City High School and demanded a job there,” Palmer laughed.
They were married on October 8, 1964, at the Logan Temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
“I had to get married there because it’s where Mom got married,” she said.
Eventually, Jack finished school and they returned to Fruit Heights where they built a home on part of her father’s old farm west of Mountain Road. They have lived in the same home for 55 years.
Jack ran a heavy equipment excavation business. Palmer taught home economics for a few years and worked at a bank, but most of the time she stayed home with their--six girls and two boys.
“There was always plenty to do with eight kids,” she remembered.
When Jack retired, they decided to serve a mission in Russia for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
“We served for two years in Tyumen, Russia (2008-2010). Came home for a year (2011). Went again to Moscow for another two years. (2012-2014). Came home for a year (2015). Then we went to Novosibirsk for eighteen months (2016-2017). We only came home early because Jack had kidney stones,” Palmer said.
She loved serving in Russia. “It was a beautiful, beautiful country. It had many trees, but the best part of Russia was knowing the people. The people were wonderful no matter where you went. Many of the people I met still write to me,” Palmer said.
Palmer loved living on the fourteenth floor in Moscow right above Katherine the Great’s Cathedral. “Our apartment overlooked her grand fields,” Palmer said.
However, not all her experiences in Russia were wonderful–there were also some scary times.
“Many were out to get American money. They advised us not to spend any money. We told everyone, ‘We don’t have any money,” Palmer said.
They were waiting to cross the street at a stoplight and Jack noticed two men were trying to steal her purse. They had to run to get away. Another time a man followed them into a pharmacy and they walked around until the man finally got bored and left.
While they loved their time in Russia, Palmer was grateful to come home to their large family of 56 members--36 grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren.
Unfortunately, Palmer lost her beloved Jack in 2020. She fills her time sewing, doing genealogy, and traveling with her children.
Some advice Palmer would give to her children and residents of Fruit Heights is to “look up from your phones, focus on the people in your lives, and listen to them. It is a beautiful world that we live in and there are good people everywhere.” λ