Harlan Arthur Palm, age 90, passed away peacefully on December 27, 2021 at his home on Lake Koronis, Paynesville, MN surrounded by loved ones. A visitation will be held from 4:00 to 8:00 PM on Monday, January 3, 2022, at Johnson-Hagglund Funeral and Cremation Service in Litchfield. A private graveside service will be held later.
Harlan lived a full and worthwhile life. He was born March 28, 1931, in Litchfield, MN to Harry and Agnes Palm. After attending school in Grove City, MN, Harlan joined the United States Navy and served his country from 1951 – 1955. He was a flight engineer stationed in Panama City. Harlan, throughout his life, had an intense love of planes and aviation. Harlan met his wife of 63-years, Jeraldean Elsie (Cordes) Palm in 1957 while working at the Minneapolis airport. They were married in 1958 at Grace Lutheran Church in South St. Paul. Harlan and Jerri returned to Grove City to raise their family and help his father on the family farm. This is where his interest in developing and manufacturing products began.
Harlan had an incredible innovative spirit and an innate ability to see a need and to develop and produce products to fill that need. The Cozy Cab was one of his earliest business ventures. Harlan’s next venture was the creation of Palm Industries in Litchfield MN. Palm Industries was instrumental in the creation and production of Roll Over Protection Systems (ROPS) for construction equipment prior to the eventual industry mandates for construction and agricultural equipment to be equipped with a ROPS. Palm Industries was sold in the late 1970’s and was relocated to Watertown, SD and continues the manufacturing of these products. After a few other business ventures and with his continuing love of the construction industry, Harlan then began manufacturing and selling Towmaster Trailers. The family farm served as the location for this venture. In the early 1980’s Harlan was approached by a skid steer loader manufacturer to redesign their grader attachment. Harlan, with his innovative ability, took on the challenge and started Palm Attachments which eventually developed and produced a complete line of attachments for skid steer and track loaders for the emerging markets in the compact equipment industry. Palm Attachments was sold to Bobcat Company in 1998 eventually transitioning to the Bobcat Company attachment plant in Litchfield, MN. In 1994 Towmaster transitioned from the family farm and moved into the original Palm Industries building in Litchfield to manufacture and sell trailers. Towmaster trailers grew to become a nationally known company which had dealers in all 50 states. In 2009 a truck division was added to service the snow plow and ice industry. Towmaster designed and created the truck boxes and equipped the trucks with plows and needed accessories. Towmaster was sold in 2017 to Monroe Truck Equipment and remains at the Litchfield location employing 200 people. Harlan, along with his wife Jerri, who was instrumental in all the business ventures, were most proud of being able to create good jobs for their community.
Harlan was an avid reader and looked upon knowledge as an essential tool to achieve a successful and fulfilled life. He always spoke of the need for education and would routinely speak to young people and especially his grandchildren about the opportunities that education could provide. This, combined with their love of community, inspired Harlan and Jerri to establish The Harlan and Jeraldean Palm Scholarship Fund which provides money to local students who have an interest in continuing their education in the engineering, manufacturing, and trade skills.
With all these accomplishments along with the trials and tribulations along the way, Harlan will be remembered most for his love of family, children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren, and his sense of humor, extreme knowledge and capability to walk into a room of strangers and walk out friends with all of them. He was a man who took the time to learn about a person, their history, family and their passions regardless of their background or past doings. He was a lover of life who enjoyed traveling, splitting time between Minnesota and Arizona, an avid reader even to the end, and always the salesman.
He lived life on his own terms and never quit thinking about the next big deal. Pretty sure his last big negotiation was with God.
Harlan is survived by wife, Jerri Palm of Paynesville; children: Greg Palm of Paynesville, Janelle (Bruce) Johnson of Grove City, Jerolyn (Brian) Weseman of Spicer, and Joleen (Darek) Bebus of Paynesville; 8 grandchildren: Nicole (Marlon) Charles of Victoria, Danielle (Nate) DeLeeuw of Atwater, Eric (Aubrey) Palm of Fargo, Gabby (Sam) Swisher of Grove City, Ashley (Ryan) Buer of Atwater, Alicia (Andy) Glimsdal of New London, Jordyn Bebus of Paynesville, and Jake Bebus of Paynesville along with 16 great-grandchildren.
Harlan was preceded in death by parents Harry and Agnes Palm and brother Darrel Palm.