Roy Vance Palmer

February 25, 1923July 7, 2018

Roy, born in Zanesville, Ohio, lived a life dedicated to country and community service. As a child he learned to enjoy travel and the adventures it brought, moving from Zanesville to Port Huron, Michigan and then to Ann Arbor, Michigan before moving to Bloomington, Illinois where he finished high school, attended college at Illinois Wesleyan and he met his wife of over seven decades, Betty Lou Fish.

At nineteen, Roy joined the Army Air Crop and served in the Asiatic Pacific Theater of WWII. When discharged, he returned to Bloomington to finish college and marry Betty Lou. Fascinated by the cultures he was exposed to during his WWII service, upon graduation from college, Roy moved to Washington, DC to study International Relations at the School for Advanced International Studies. He quickly became enamored with the history of the Middle East. After obtaining his Masters degree, Roy joined the Central Intelligence Agency and spent over a decade serving his country in Iran, India, and Turkey. In each of these locations, he taught his family the joys of travel and of discovery of the history, geography, and culture of these countries. Countless family road trips were taken visiting ancient ruins and other historical and cultural sites. Seeing, however, was not all there was - our taste buds were delighted by our introduction to kabobs and curries, strange breads and exotic fruits. Roy had an understanding of and respect for cultural differences and shared that with everyone.

Eventually, he and the family moved to McLean, VA which would become home for the rest of his life. Roy became an active member of Lewinsville Presbyterian Church in 1968 where he served as an elder; and for 20 years he led the “For Men Only” group. He drove for Meals on Wheels for just as many years enjoying the opportunity to socialize while providing companionship and keeping a caring eye on the health and well-being on the less mobile and elderly members of our community. In Roy’s retirement, he kept current on the news and corresponding with his congressmen regarding issues important to him. His awareness of the racial disparities and environmental degradation in our country dictated his life’s work and philanthropy, which were represented in supporting as many as 27 charities. Upon retirement, Roy became an avid long-distance runner and power walker for nearly 40 years. His home was always open to family and friends from around the world for respite, Betty’s wonderful meals, stories and plenty of laughter.

Roy is survived by his wife, Betty Lou, four children (Stephen and his wife Jennifer, Cynthia, Catherine and her husband Randy, and John and his wife Debbie), five grandchildren (Kristin, Blair, Garrett, Cassady, Quinn, and Wes), and two great-grandchildren (Emily and Dylan).

In Roy’s honor look for the best in everyone, accept differences, love one another, cherish time with family and friends, be an ally to those without a voice and the environment and go outside and play.

The Memorial service to be held Saturday, August 25, 2018 at 1:00 PM at Lewinsville Presbyterian Church, 1724 Chain Bridge Rd, McLean, VA 22101

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to one of Roy’s favorite charities; Lewinsville Presbyterian Church, American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), Chesapeake Bay Foundation, or Population Connection Action Fund.


  • Memorial Service Saturday, August 25, 2018

Roy Vance Palmer

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Gus & Tina Colom

August 24, 2018

So sorry for your loss. Roy was a sweet and wonderful gentleman. You are all in our thoughts and prayers. Love, Gus & Tina Colom

Roy Palmer

August 11, 2018

The Palmer Family,
We just loved your Dad! He was a kind and interesting man. We always enjoyed
talking with him and our life is richer because of our friendship. Thank you for letting us know
of his passing. Much love to your Mom. Earl and Melanie Applegate