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Former Turlock schools superintendent dies in bike accident at age 78

Denton Palmer, superintendent of Turlock Schools from 1982 until his retirement in 1992, was killed in a bicycling accident last week a few miles from his home on Whidbey Island in Washington.

According to the Whidbey News-Times, Palmer, 78, was found along the 100 block of Morris Road lying next to his bicycle on Feb. 16, at about 1:40 p.m. He was transported to Whidbey General Hospital where he was later pronounced dead.  Police are investigating the circumstances of his death, and it's unclear at this time whether Palmer died from natural causes or was struck by a vehicle.

Before coming to the Turlock School District in 1982, Denton served as an administrator, including superintendent, in several Southern California school districts. He was a 1955 graduate of Seattle Pacific University where he was recently inducted into their Sports Hall of Fame as a result of being an outstanding track star as an undergraduate. He later received a doctorate in education from the University of Southern California.

At 78 years of age he remained a very active and competitive athlete until the time of his death, still able to run several miles and often taking bike rides of 100 miles or more through the hills of Whidbey Island. In fact, just a week before his death he purchased a brand new high performance road bike.

He and his wife, Eve, were frequent visitors to the Central Valley and would go on an annual bike ride through the mountains of Mariposa County with long-time friend Bob Stammerjohan.  He was also very active in the Gideon Society, often spending his weekends at various community events handing out copies of the New Testament.

After his retirement in 1992, he and his wife moved to Oak Harbor, Wash. where they built a beautiful home atop a hill where they had a spectacular panoramic view of nearby Puget Sound.

Palmer volunteered at his local water district board, spent nearly a decade serving as a Seattle Pacific University Alumni board member and president, and was an elder at Oak Harbor's First Reformed Church.

He is survived by his wife, younger brother, three children, 27 grandchildren (his son and daughter-in-law adopted 18 kids in addition to their five by birth), and several great grandchildren. His younger sister, who lived next door to him, died in 2003.

A memorial service will be held at 2 p.m. on March 5 at the First Reformed Church in Oak Harbor, Wash.