Local man killed in farming accident

By DeeAnna Haney | Nov 30, 2012
Photo by: Donated photo

To his family and friends, Max Robert Palmer will always be remembered for his constant smile and love of the outdoors.

He spent most of his life working on the 20-acre farm where he and his two sisters grew up. But to him, it wasn't really work at all, said his older sister, Peggy Phillips.

While talking about her brother, there were moments of tears and some of laughter. She also paused in disbelief at times, attempting to process the thought of life without him.

The 60-year-old longtime farmer was killed in a tractor accident Thursday around 5 p.m. while working to clear tobacco stalks from the field.

Palmer reached into the machine to clear a jam when his glove became caught and pulled his right arm inside, according to an incident report from the Haywood County Sheriff's Office.

Three other men were working with Palmer, one of whom disabled the machine and called 9-1-1. Palmer died on the scene.

Det. Scott Robinson with the Haywood County Sheriff's Office said he does not suspect any foul play.

"It just appears to be a very tragic accident," he said.

Although Palmer was skilled with farming tools and regularly traded and sold equipment, his sister said he took a risk every time he worked on the farm.

"He knew so much about all that equipment and knew the ins and outs of it all. It's just sad that some of the equipment took his life," she said, adding that she often worried about him working with those machines.

Palmer was well-known through working closely with other farmers to lease land and tobacco allotments across the county.

Being a farmer was all Palmer ever wanted to do.

"He's been a farmer since he was a baby. Even as a little bitty boy all he ever wanted for Christmas was farm equipment, and they always bought him the little heavy duty tractors," Phillips said.

She remembers her little brother pushing around his farm equipment and hauling cherry trees leaves pretending it was tobacco.

"He always had a big smile. So many people have told me they can still see him smiling. He always smiled no matter what the situation," she said.

Phillips prefers to remember her brother exactly the way he looked when she last saw him on Thanksgiving when he brought their younger sister, Judy, to visit.

"It’s a good memory to remember them backing out of the driveway together, laughing and cutting up," she said.

Funeral services will be held at 2 p.m. Monday, Dec. 3, at Long’s Chapel United Methodist Church with the Rev. Dr. Charles W. “Chuck” Wilson, II and the Rev. Carrol Lindsey officiating.  Burial will follow at Garrett-Hillcrest Memorial Park.

The family will receive friends from 4 until 8 p.m. Sunday at Wells Funeral Home of Waynesville.