Helen Mattson Palmer


Helen Mattson was born on June 5, 1921 to John and Helja Mattson in the small lumber town of Lawler, Minnesota. Her father was a lumberjack, so her mother and family followed him from one lumber camp to another throughout her childhood. Her pets were the wild animals she loved and tamed, her playground was the woods. The main mode of transportation for the Finnish family was by skis.

She met Charles Palmer on the steps of a General Store in Alvwood, Minnesota, when she was 17 years of age. After a short courtship they married and immediately left for a new life in Montana.

Mrs. Palmer had an adventurous spirit and a never ending desire to learn new things. When she was in her 70s she sprained her ankle playing ball with her grandchildren, and learned to drive a 4-wheeler when she was in her 80s.

At the age of 83, she decided she was missing out on too much family news, so she needed a computer. She enlisted the help of a granddaughter, telling her she wanted a computer and anything that went with one. The granddaughter happily complied and included a DVD so Mrs. Palmer could teach herself to type. She loved sharing pictures and emails with family and friends. About this time, Mrs. Palmer decided she wanted a puppy. Expecting some resistance from the family concerning a puppy, she started researching dog breeds online. After finding the perfect puppy she ordered it online and requested air shipment to Billings. The family learned of her purchase when she needed a ride to Billings to pick it up. Ginger became her beloved, constant companion. 

Mrs. Palmer loved to go camping, but did not want to put anyone out by having to stay in their campers, so at the age of 85 years, she purchased her own. She enjoyed many campouts, and also used it as a summer home at the Bailey Ranch on her beloved Rosebud Creek.

She worked for 10 years as a nurse’s aide at the Rosebud County Hospital and Nursing Home where she later resided. After moving to Rosebud Creek she worked at the Lame Deer IGA as manager of the drug and jewelry department.

She faced life with a smile on her face. Her motto was “If you can’t change your situation, then change your attitude.” She lived by that and accepted the challenges of life with cheerfulness. Mrs. Palmer was well loved by many people and will be missed by all who knew her, especially her family. 

Her survivors include her eight children: Carol (Jack) Bailey, Charles Jr. (Kris), Karen (Larry) Kautzman, Shirley (Tom) Skinner, Gale (Julie) Palmer, Debbie Strizich (Jerry), Kathy Palmer (Dale) and Suzette (Bob) Phillips;  her beloved dog, Ginger (Carma and Jim Zimmerman); 15 grandchildren; 33 great-grandchildren; five and on-half great-great-grandchildren; and her sister: Helmi Larson.

Mrs. Palmer was preceded in death by her spouse of 63 years, Charles Palmer Sr.; her parents; and three brothers.

Cremation has taken place. A Celebration of Life will take place Saturday, May 17, 2014, at 11 a.m. in the Chapel of Stevenson and Sons Funeral Home of Forsyth. Burial will follow in the Forsyth Cemetery.  A luncheon will follow graveside services at Stevenson and Sons Funeral Home in Forsyth.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in Mrs. Palmer’s name to The Rosebud Foundation, P.O. Box 500, Forsyth, MT 59327 or to The St. Labre Mission, P.O. Box 228, Ashland, MT  59003.

Condolences may be sent by visiting: www.stevensonandsons.com.