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Woodburn grad remembers grandfather in book of poems

by: COURTESY OF BONNIE MCGREGOR - The author of the book, Howard Palmer, is pictured (far right) with his granddaughter, Bonnie McGregor, who published the book, and her son, Sean, in 1987. Palmer died in 1988.A Woodburn man’s poetry has been immortalized in a book published by his granddaughter, and it’s now gaining international attention.

“Life Stories of a Hero,” by Howard Palmer and arranged by granddaughter Bonnie McGregor, is being featured at the 2013 Frankfurt Book Fair in Frankfurt, Germany.

“It’s great because it’s going to be right at what would have been Grandpa’s birthday,” McGregor pointed out.

Palmer, who spent much of his life in Woodburn, was born in Waldport on Oct. 11, 1907 and worked as a logger until 1951.

He married his teenage sweetheart, Bea, in 1927, and they had four children.

“It wasn’t until the birth of their first grandchild — which happened to be me — for him to realize the logging trade was far too dangerous for a family man,” McGregor said.

So the family moved to Woodburn, where Palmer took up a job as a custodian in Woodburn schools for 20 years.

Although he never published his own poetry, McGregor was determined to change that after his death in 1988.

“I thoroughly enjoyed it and I just knew those stories would be wonderful for others to be able to enjoy,” McGregor explained. “He possessed a magical gift that left us with a powerful legacy of hope and love. (His poetry is) fun reading filled with simple life lessons, all mixed up with gentle words of wisdom and kindness.”

Although McGregor thought it would be neat to publish her grandfathers’ poems, she didn’t actively pursue such a feat until 2003, when she got her first laptop.by: SUBMITTED - Pictured is the cover of the book of poems by Howard Palmer, who lived in Woodburn from 1951 until his death in 1988.

“I didn’t even know how many he had written,” she said. “I filtered through them, there were some repeats, some weren’t finished. It took me a long time to do it.”

McGregor, who is now retired and lives in Salem, published the book in 2009, more than 20 years after her grandfather’s death.

The book’s 90-plus poems are divided into four parts: “A Wise Man Once Said,” “Two Passions, History and Nature,” “The Near and Dear” and “A Different Side.” Poems range from “Children” to “Ode to the Pioneers” to “The Bowling of Daisy Magoo.”

McGregor’s favorite poem in the collection is “When You Were a Little Girl,” which he wrote for her.

“I was overseas in the Air Force, and he sent me this poem,” she recalled. “I just felt like I had my family love there with me and I was thousands of miles away. It was as if he knew just what to do (to make me feel better).”

McGregor pointed out that her grandfather supported Shriner’s Hospital, which will receive a portion of the proceeds from her book sales, she said.

“It’s not a huge thing, but that was something he believed in so I wanted to make sure that continues,” McGregor said.

The book is available through any major online bookstore and has already affected many readers, McGregor said.

“Those that read it, they love it,” she said. “That’s the best thing is that people are enjoying it. You just can’t help it. He makes you feel like you’re there, he tells such a good story. He had a great way of letting you just be there.”



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