Archive for the Family Category

The 1st Of A Million Tributes

Posted in Adirondacks, Family, Friendship, Living Simply, Personal History, Soul Food on August 10, 2018 by WanderArtist

We were graced with an amazing day to climb Poke-O-Moonshine Mountain in the Adirondacks to honor Shaun’s memory on August 10, 2018. Just a handful of friends joined me to let fly some of Shaun’s ashes from the fire tower.


The humidity that was dogging us lifted overnight after a dramatic late night thunderstorm. The trail was dry and gorgeous and sparsely traveled when we headed out on our hike up the newly, and beautifully rebuilt old trail.

Chocolate and coffee were passed around at the summit in Shaun’s honor and then I climbed the fire tower alone to scatter ashes to the four directions. After a few private minutes others joined me…

We watched from the tower as six hawks circled the summit and performed acrobatics through the clouds. We all felt Shaun’s spirit soaring above and around us.

Karen’s dog Finn also made a special connection with the young summit steward!


It’s just the beginning of this release of ashes, memories and love for our sweet friend. I hope you can join me for a million more tributes. Love to all… Hug each other.

xo a

Shaun 1952 – 2018

Posted in Family, Friendship, Inspiring People, Personal History on July 19, 2018 by WanderArtist

Born in Plattsburgh, NY on February 13, 1952 Shaun was the seventh child of ItaMary O’Grady Heffernan (an Irish citizen to the day she died) and Thomas True Heffernan (his middle name came from his mother whose was a member of the True family of Saranac and True Brook). He was preceded in death by his parents and four sisters: Marie Johnson, Patricia Nortell, ItaMary Yuncker and Joan Patterson. Shaun is survived by his wife Amanda Palmer; sister Gail Wilson; brother Thomas Heffernan and wife Charlotte; and numerous nieces and nephews. Shaun had a difficult home life and was fortunate to be “adopted” by some local families – most notably the Engelhart, Hartnett, and Russo families. Thank You All.

As a child he was the light in the room for his mother and often recalled his joy in impersonating Elvis for her. This may have influenced his recent purchase of a beautiful pair of blue suede shoes.

Shaun worked many wild jobs over the years including crab fishing in Alaska, oil field ‘swamper’ in Wyoming, bartender, roadie for various friends bands (you know who you are!), and waiter in San Francisco. Throughout those years his passion for photography was a driving force. In 1985 he quit alcohol and drugs, choosing instead a positive life in pursuit of his art. In 1990 he met his soulmate, Amanda Palmer, at San Francisco State University – almost eloping just five days after their first date. In 1994, they moved to his beloved North Country, where they married in 1996. Shaun worked in photography, exhibit design, and ran a thriving card company, Follow Your Bliss cards. For nine years, Shaun and Amanda operated their own gallery and espresso bar, The Oasis in downtown Plattsburgh.

Shaun was an award winning photographer with hundreds of thousands of images spanning five decades in his photographic library. One of his great loves was environmental portraiture. Shaun often said that a portrait was the record of the interaction between photographer and subject – and his images of people reflected the love, compassion and positivity he brought to ALL of his human interactions.

Shaun was a gifted photographer – a master of light. He wove it through his imagery as though with a painted brush. Yet his photography evoked a deeper experience; his photographs were a celebration. He thrust into every image the desire to express joy – to recognize and share the gifts of our planet, the bounty of our surroundings.

Sometimes his images were whimsical to elicit a smile or a chuckle; his portraits provided a glimpse into the inner being. His landscapes captured the vibrancy of a day awakening to a symphony of colors and with the same precision he captured the stillness of a night sky and the mystery of a distant moon.

Shaun was a keen observer. His photographs not only translated the majesty of the landscape but also hidden treasures so often overlooked – the intricate detail of crystals left behind by an evening frost or the delicate petals of a wildflower lifting its face to the warming sun. Shaun was a tremendous lover of music and musicians and had a keen ear for nuance. One of his more remarkable gifts was his uncanny ability to marry music with his images to produce breathtaking and awe-inspiring slide shows whose synergy far exceeded the sum of its parts.

Recognized by National Geographic as a prize winning photographer Shaun’s most recent project was to document birds of our National Parks. Just as his technical skills enabled his capture of fleeting moments, his watchful patience was rewarded with close-up glimpses of those beautiful creatures. But it was his innate desire to express joy that allowed a more intimate portrayal of these rare moments. Birds flutter as flamingo dancers, ponds shimmer with mirrored stately poses and when we look into a hawk’s eye we see our own reflection.

Shaun invites us to stand with him and see what he sees: Wonderment. His magic was not just his technical ability to capture the light: the light within him infused each photograph with inner beauty and revealed a deeper understanding of our world of riches.

Shaun was an inspiration to his fellow photographers and visual artists: his generosity of heart enabled revelatory moments of bliss for a wide world of friends and acquaintances. His legacy will be cherished; we have lost a special voice.

For the last four years Shaun was following his bliss by wandering the United States and taking photographs in many of his most favorite places… along with cultivating new treasured spots. He was overjoyed to have captured photographs of numerous scenes and birds that he had envisioned for years. His plan to “cultivate serendipity” resulted in some lasting and very loving friendships with people met along the way. He knew he was a lucky man, he felt it in his heart and expressed it to those around him frequently.

Shaun loved biking and hiking. A friend named his bike “the green ghost” many years ago and it stuck. Biking was a daily activity for him right up until his last morning when he took a favorite route and rode to a spot he dubbed “the dream spot”. The route stopped at an overpass to the Northway where he and his wife would ride and dream of upcoming travels. He shot a video on his way home and sent it to his wife. (Look for the video below)

Shaun had a devilishly delightful sense of humor, bawdy at times, but always delivered with style, charm, and a twinkle in his eye. Shaun’s positivity, strength, and desire to always be a better human will be sorely missed by his wife and others. He would want to be remembered most for always reaching out to those around him and offering his hugs, love and joy. Hug each other. Into the mystic he goes, leaving the world a much better place for his having passed through it.

Through the end of July some of his work can be seen at the Peru Free Library in Peru, NY. Cremation has been left to Walker Funeral Home and there will be a celebration of his life held in the North Country in 2019.









JH Guthrie and the Independent Order of Odd Fellows

Posted in Family, Ideas, Inspiring People, Personal History with tags , , , , , , on August 30, 2014 by WanderArtist

We all feel we have interesting characters in our family trees. One friend of mine has a quote on a pillow on their living room couch that states proudly, “My family tree is full of nuts!”. Recently I have been delving into photographs of some of my ancestors sent me by my father. I know very little about most of these characters aside from names, relationships and sometimes pertinent dates. One of the men I would like to know more about is JH Guthrie. Dad sent a few photos and a brief article about Guthrie.


The undeniably distinctive mustache and spectacles made me curious. I am guessing he is my great great grandfather, father to Georgia Alma Guthrie Palmer. This will take further research, but in the meantime, I will introduce you briefly to the relative I have become so curious about.

J.H.Guthrie Business Card

JH Guthrie’s calling card from his carpentry business based out of Raymond, Nebraska. This card screams confidence… He knows how to make anything, or just draw up the plans for you. And JH knew that putting his name diagonally across the card would be eye-catching. And what is his first name? Is he John Henry, James Howard? No, call him JH, everyone does.

J.H.Guthrie_OffFellow Article

Ah, we learn a little more about JH… he was an Odd Fellow… and clearly a skilled one at that!

The Independent Order of Odd Fellows is now a worldwide altruistic and benevolent organization. It started in the mid-18th century, in England, and came to the US around 1820. In 1851, the Odd Fellows began accepting women as members, being the first fraternal organization to do so, by forming the Daughters of Rebekah. Brother Schuyler Colfax, (Vice President of the US from 1869-1873), was the force behind the movement to bring women into the organization as full members. According to the IOOF website “The Odd Fellows, also known as The Three Link Fraternity, is one of the oldest and largest non-political and non-sectarian fraternal and service-oriented organizations in the world.”


This photograph intrigues me… did JH Guthrie make the musical instrument he holds so proudly? Was he also a musician? The apron certainly implies that he just walked outside of his workshop to get this new instrument photographed… the shadow, the admiring look down… captures a moment in time so clearly, and generates so many questions.

Along with my (possibly) great great grandfather – Ulysses S. Grant, Franklin D. Roosevelt and even Jesse James are said to have been Odd Fellows. JH Guthrie was an interesting character, no doubt!


I will add in an interesting document, dated November 1910, I found on the web related to Stonington IOOF and JH Guthrie, it must be the same man…


Walk the Line

Posted in Family, Inspiring People, Personal History, Wanderings with tags , , , , , on March 27, 2014 by WanderArtist

Thoughts of travel back to the land of my birth (Nebraska) have spurred me once again to study old family photos and written histories. As anyone who studies their genealogy will say… There were some interesting characters in my family line! Relatives have traced my father’s family as far back as the 18th century and the first Palmer to step on American soil. There are as many interesting stories in my mother’s family – including the possibility of Algonquin lineage, and a family connection to the Charles Tufts family who donated the land for Tufts University. Here I will illuminate some of the Palmer line – mainly because I have better written information and many more photographs going back to my great-great-great Grandparents, William Henry Palmer & Permelia Higgs Palmer.

The first Palmer of my family to arrive in the New World was John Palmer, who sailed from England to Virginia in 1764. His son – also John – moved from Virginia to Kentucky. Very little is known about either of them… who they married, what work they did, even their birth and death information is not known to us. John Jr. was father to my great-great-great Grandfather, William Henry. William married Permelia Higgs, whose father came from Scotland, and they moved from Kentucky to Indiana. According to a relative who wrote the genealogy to which I refer, “Having lived in Kentucky before moving to Indiana, the Palmer family was very strongly pro-Southern in their views and opinions. Permelia was once mobbed in Thorntown by an angry crowd who objected to her violent denunciation of Lincoln… Jumping into her buggy… and wielding a big whip, she managed to escape.”

William Henry Palmer & Permelia Higgs Palmer

William Henry Palmer & Permelia Higgs Palmer

My great-great-great Grandparents William and Permelia had nine children, their son Joseph Thomas Palmer (1832-1912) was the first to move to Nebraska – in 1856. Joseph taught school when he first arrived in Nebraska but freighted provisions to miners in Denver in a covered wagon after his marriage – before eventually settling down to farming. Joseph met and married Lydia Ann Brinson from Nebraska City in 1861. They also had a large family of eight children and my great Grandfather Arthur Franklin Palmer, Sr. (1876-1951) was born on a farm west of Raymond, NE.

Joseph Thomas Palmer & Lydia Ann Brinson Palmer 1901

Joseph Thomas Palmer & Lydia Ann Brinson Palmer 1901

Joseph Thomas Palmer & Lydia Ann Brinson Palmer

Joseph Thomas Palmer & Lydia Ann Brinson Palmer

Arthur Franklin Palmer, Sr. married Georgia Alma Guthrie in October, 1901, they had three children. Georgia (1879-1977) is my favorite relative in photographs, for reasons I hope you will see. I remember her as a small but very strong, white-haired old woman at Grandpa’s house when I was a little girl. She was frightening to me because she would sometimes grab us (maybe she did this only once and it has grown in my memory!) hold us tight, and ask “Whose little girl are you?” in an angry voice. It is difficult to reconcile the old woman I remember with the young beautiful and intense woman in the photographs.

Georgia Alma Guthrie Palmer & Arthur Franklin Palmer, Sr.

Georgia Alma Guthrie Palmer & Arthur Franklin Palmer, Sr.

Georgia Alma Guthrie Palmer - fully loaded

Georgia Alma Guthrie Palmer – fully loaded

Georgia Alma Guthrie Palmer

Georgia Alma Guthrie Palmer

Here I will diverge briefly from the Palmer family to show a few photographs and a business card of J.H. Guthrie, who I think was Georgia’s father.

J.H. Guthrie business card

J.H. Guthrie business card

J.H. Guthrie

J.H. Guthrie

J.H. Guthrie

J.H. Guthrie

My Grandfather, Arthur Franklin ‘Frank’ Palmer, Jr. was the oldest child, born in 1907. Grandpa married Abbie Housel and they had eight children. My father, James Lelon Palmer is the second youngest.

Arthur Franklin Palmer, Jr. 1926

Arthur Franklin Palmer, Jr. 1926

Arthur Franklin Palmer, Jr. & Abbie Housel Palmer

Arthur Franklin Palmer, Jr. & Abbie Housel Palmer

Abbie Housel Palmer

Abbie Housel Palmer

James Leland Palmer at work as a Photojournalist for Associated Press, ca. 1989

James Lelon Palmer at work as a Photojournalist & Editor for Associated Press, ca. 1989

I will end with thanks to my relative Bertha Hornung who, in 1954, compiled what was then known of our family history… And my father deserves the biggest ‘thank you’ for taking Bertha’s “Briefly Biographical” and typing it (along with a concise family tree) and sending the document to my siblings and me back in 1989. It is from my father’s collection of family photos I have culled these gems. There are many more fun photographs which may prompt later installments – and make me further ‘Walk the Line’!

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