June 9, 1928 – Jan. 3, 2014
Robert G. Palmatier, who died Friday in his Lockport home, had a lifelong love of airplanes and flying. He was 85.
Born in Rochester, he built model airplanes and worked at Hyland Airport while he was a student at Monroe High School. He earned his pilot’s license at age 16, before he acquired a driver’s license. The first person he took for a flight was his mother.
After graduating from high school in 1946, he joined the Air Force, where he earned his aircraft mechanics license. He served as an aircraft and power plant mechanic, and studied to teach avionics until he was discharged due to family considerations. He served for about five years in the Air Force Reserve.
In the 1980s, he rebuilt a Pipe J5-A aircraft and received a second-place award at the first Piper Classic Show of Airplanes in 1986. He also helped in restoration projects on other aircraft, including a Bell helicopter and a NE1 Navy fighter plane.
He was a member of EAA (Experimental Aircraft Association) Chapter 656 and was a technical counselor for the EAA. He was a charter member of the Clarence airport and a past president of the Aero Club of Buffalo. He also was involved with the Clarence Aerodrome and volunteered at various air shows, including the one in Niagara Falls.
Although airplanes were his passion, cars and car repairs were his bread and butter.
He worked as a mechanic and painter at various dealerships and private auto shops in the Rochester area until 1957, when he went to work as an independent auto collision appraiser.
In 1972, Mr. Palmatier moved to the Buffalo area to set up a branch of IADA-Auto Collision Appraisers in Kenmore.
Later, he became owner of Auto Collision Appraisers and received an award for serving as chairman of the state coordinating committee for the Inter-Industry Conference on Auto Collision Repair.
After he retired in 1992, he helped restore a Model T Ford truck.
From the mid-1950s to the early 1970s, he also devoted considerable time and effort to archery. He was state champion in the men’s freestyle amateur division in 1965 and regular placed in archery tournaments throughout Western New York.
Mr. Palmatier served as president of the Rochester Archery Club, taught archery in the Rush-Henrietta Schools adult education program, set up a small business making and selling bow strings and arrows, and was tournament director for the New York State Archery Association Championships in Henrietta in 1970.
He also hunted with bow and arrows for many years. A newspaper dubbed him the “Henrietta Robin Hood” in 1968.
He lived in Getzville from 1973 until he moved to Lockport in 1998.
Survivors include his wife of 61 years, the former Edith Thiel; two sons, Richard G. and R. Scott; a daughter, Nancy A.; a brother, Richard E.; and four grandchildren.
Services will be at 11 a.m. Saturday in Amigone Funeral Home, 5200 Sheridan Drive, Amherst.