School 12

Arvin Palmer

August 8, 1940 ~ August 27, 2020 (age 80)


Arvin Palmer was born on August 8, 1940 in Winslow, Arizona, the oldest child of Roy and Lucille Thomas Palmer. He was married to Jean Smith of Joseph City for 57 years. He is the father of Lani, Roy (deceased), Jeanette, and Bryce, and is the grandfather of 16 grandchildren and 1 great grandchild. He passed away on August 27, 2020 at his home in Taylor, Arizona, surrounded by his family.

Arvin graduated from Snowflake High School in 1958. He served a 31-month mission in Japan for the LDS Church. He attended Arizona State University and Claremont Graduate University where he completed a B.A., a M.A., and a Ph.D. in Political Science. He also earned the equivalent of a Masters degree in History. In 1971 he was selected as one of 36 people from all the colleges and universities in the U.S. to spend a year in the American Council on Educations Academic Administration Internship Program. As a “fellow” in that program he was immersed in college administration training for a full year. A year later he was chosen as a Dean of Whittier College, a four year college in California.  Eventually he felt the need to return to rural Arizona. He then spent a year as the Navajo County School Superintendent. The next year he was appointed Dean of General Education and Extended Services at Northland Pioneer College. Later he became the Dean of Instruction and Vice President. He served in that role for 15 years. Some of his greatest accomplishments during this time included getting several top vocational training programs at NPC including the nursing program. He also conceptualized and developed the original two plus two agreement wherein a two year community college student could graduate from NPC (or any other community college) and have their course work and general education requirements accepted at full value at the three state universities. He served at Northland Pioneer College for a total of 27 years. He was always grateful to his mentor, Marvin Vasher, who gave him the opportunity to serve with him at Northland Pioneer College.

Arvin also served as an evaluator for the North Central Accrediting Association serving on a team that evaluated 13 community colleges in states outside of Arizona.

Arvin was a leader. He provided leadership to his community and region, serving especially with numerous economic development groups and efforts. He served on the Taylor Town Council for several years.

Arvin was a teacher. Whether it was a Sunday School class or a graduate seminar he was an effective and motivating teacher. He saw teaching as his true vocation.

Arvin was a student. He continued to study, listening to college courses, and reading books on history and biographies throughout his life. He enjoyed traveling and visited all the states in the U.S. and learning more about the nation’s history, geography, and economy. His international travel included China, Japan, Greece, Italy, France, Monaco, Spain, England, Wales, Scotland, Ireland, Canada, and Mexico.

Arvin was a writer. He wrote a book called Buddhist Politics for his doctorate and it is still found in all the top university libraries in the U.S. and in most European countries, in Canada, Australia, and Japan. He has written or compiled and edited 15 books during his lifetime, most of them focusing on regional history and family history since he returned to Arizona. He wrote over two dozen book reviews for national journals.

Arvin lived most of his life in Taylor, Arizona and loved his hometown. He loved just being an “ole cowboy.” One of the things that brought great happiness to his life was working on the family ranch with his Dad, kids, and grandkids.

Arvin loved his family and will be greatly missed. He is survived by his wife, Jean; daughter Lani (Brian) Reidhead; daughter Jeanette (Tommy) Hancock; and son Bryce (Anne) Palmer. He is also survived by his 16 grandchildren--Trey Reidhead, Tiara Reidhead, Shantay Reidhead, Jace Reidhead, Zac Reidhead, Easton Reidhead, Trace Hancock, Taya Hancock, Stetson Hancock, Kaidan Hancock, Ashtyn Hancock, Emma Palmer, Halle Palmer, Madelyn Palmer, Casen Palmer, Rhett Palmer, and 1 great-grandchild–Losea Reidhead. He is survived by his siblings, brother Steve (Kathi) Palmer, sister Sybil (Steve) Corry, and sister Phyllis (Mike) Peterson.

In lieu of flowers, please send donations to NPC for student scholarships. Make checks to NPC Friends and Family and designate on the memo line “In Memory of Arvin Palmer.” Mail to Northland Pioneer College, c/o BetsyAnn Wilson, 1611 S. Main St., Snowflake, AZ 85937. For those who prefer to use a credit card please go to and use the donate button. At the PayPal portal please leave a message that the donation is made “In Memory of Arvin Palmer.”

Public viewing on Wednesday, Sept. 2, 2020, from 6 to 8 p.m. at Silver Creek Mortuary, 745 Papermill Rd, Taylor, AZ.  Funeral services held Friday, Sept. 4, 2020, at The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Contact family for Zoom link.

To plant a tree in memory of Arvin Palmer, please visit our tribute store.


September 2, 2020

6:00 PM to 8:00 PM
Silver Creek Chapel
745 Papermill Road
Taylor, AZ 85939

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