Dr. William Rodney Palmer

Dr. William Rodney Palmer

September 5, 1948 – August 5, 2021

Obituaries have next to nothing to do with death and absolutely everything to do with life.  If you were fortunate enough to know Bill Palmer, then you know he lived with fierce love and passion for rheumatology, his dear patients, his close friends and his family.

Dr. William R. Palmer passed away peacefully at home surrounded by his family on August 5, 2021 after a hard-fought battle with cancer.  He is survived by his beautiful wife, Leslie and their three children; daughters Lindsey (Marc) Milanowski, Lauren Palmer, and son David (Maggie) Palmer; brother Jim (Kris) Palmer, DDS; his grandchildren Molly, Jane and Chase Milanowski, and Garrett Palmer; his cousin Linda Blue; and his most loyal friend Pete Pornchaisiriarun.  He was preceded in death by his loving parents, William F. Palmer and Alberta M. Palmer.

William was born on September 5, 1948, in North Platte, Nebraska to William and Alberta Palmer.  He graduated from North Platte High School as valedictorian in 1966, and graduated from the University of Nebraska at Lincoln in 1969.  He graduated from medical school at the University of Nebraska in Omaha (AOA) in 1973, and completed his Internal Medicine Residency with Board Certification in 1976 and his Rheumatology Fellowship with Board Certification in 1978 at the Albany (NY) Medical Center, where he met his wife, Leslie.

Dr. Palmer was the first Board Certified Rheumatologist in Omaha, Nebraska in 1978.  He has practiced Rheumatology in private practice, most recently at Westroads Rheumatology Associates, for over 43 years.  He actively participated with the University of Nebraska Department of Internal Medicine for 25 years in the education of medical residents, Family Practice residents, Nurse Practitioner and Physician Assistant students.  He has been a constant advocate and contributor to physician and student education in Rheumatology for over four decades.  In 2014, the American College of Rheumatology recognized him as a Master.  This is one of the highest honors the College bestows.

Dr. Palmer has been a leader in multiple medical-related societies including the American College of Rheumatology, Metropolitan Omaha Medical Society (Board of Directors), the Nebraska Medical Association (Board of Directors), and the Nebraska Chapter of the Arthritis Foundation.  He is also a trustee of the Albert and Bernice Hansen Charitable Foundation which directs funds to rheumatology research, as well as to the betterment of the people in Dundee and Hitchcock County in Nebraska.

Rheumatology was his life’s work.  He loved his patients and delivered excellent medical care with compassion and kindness.  His family will remember him as a strong, honest, hard-working man with a tremendous sense of humor that was driven by goodness and service.  He cherished his annual fishing adventures in Canada with his son David, his brother Jim, and his dear friends.  He loved his dogs, the Nebraska Cornhuskers, talk radio, crossword puzzles, spending time at the Lake, fishing in the mangroves of Florida, going on cruises with Leslie and family, bragging about Lindsey, Lauren and David’s accomplishments, and watching his grandchildren grow up.

Dr. Palmer wanted to thank his patients that trusted him with their care, his rheumatology colleagues that he had the honor to work with, and his staff whom he considered family.

In lieu of flowers, please direct memorials to the Palmer TRIO Fund at Wayne State (www.wsc.edu/donate and add Palmer Trio Fund in the note section) and the Rheumatology Research Foundation (www.rheumresearch.org).

THE FAMILY REQUESTS THAT EVERYONE WEAR MASKS FOR THE VISITATION: Friday, August 13th from 5pm to-7pm at the West Center Chapel; AND FOR THE SERVICE: Saturday, August 14th at 11am at Morningstar Lutheran Church, 331 South 85th Street, Omaha.  Private Interment.  To view live broadcasts of the Service, please go to www.heafeyheafey.com and click the “View Live Cast” button on the home page.



  • DEBRA HOVORKA Posted August 7, 2021 4:55 pm

    Saddened to hear of Dr. BILL’S passing. May our Heavenly Father surround you with HIS strength and Grace and keep you strong in Faith, during your grieving.
    I had the pleasure of knowing and working with IMA for 19 yes. He took care of me , and was truly the BEST, and loved by many.
    Will be missed but never forgotten.
    Fondly, Debra

  • Deb Anderson Posted August 7, 2021 7:50 pm

    So sad to hear about Dr. Palmer’s passing. He treated me for over 30 years and we bonded quickly over shared Sept 5 birthdays, enthusiasm for political debates, and a love for everything Nebraska. I can’t imagine going to Westroads Rheumatology clinic and not seeing his smiling face or hearing his welcoming voice. He will be deeply missed.

  • Ron Olmsted Posted August 7, 2021 8:09 pm

    We were saddened to hear of Dr. Palmer’s passing. Our daughter Erin worked for Dr Palmer for the last 6 years. She would always tell us how much he taught her about the profession they worked in. She viewed him as her medical “father”, and greatly appreciated the opportunities that he entrusted to her. Thank you Dr Palmer – you will be dearly missed!!

  • Joel Kremer Posted August 7, 2021 8:30 pm

    Bill was my first medical resident during my very first internship rotation at Albany Med. I thought then that he was just an amazingly gifted physician. All of the interns placed him on a pedestal. We did our fellowship in rheumatology together at Albany Med as well. Bill invited me to Omaha on several occasions. He always supported me without reservation throughout a long career. I was blessed to have had him in my life. Bill Palmer was a very special human being who just connected with everyone. Rest In Peace Bill. You had a wonderful life journey.

  • Gary Westphal Posted August 7, 2021 8:38 pm

    I offer my heartfelt sympathies to Leslie and the rest of Bill’s family as we say goodbye to a most generous & loving human being.

  • Sheldon Lustgarten Posted August 8, 2021 4:24 am

    My prayers to his family may god watch over him

  • Brooks Call Posted August 8, 2021 5:45 am

    Bill will be missed.

  • Tom Wise Posted August 8, 2021 8:07 am

    My thoughts and prayers go out to Bill’s family. I knew Bill when we were growing up in North Platte. I always thought of him as a shining star. He will be missed.

  • Carolyn Webb Anderson Posted August 8, 2021 8:58 am

    RIP, Bill….another NPHS alum taken too soon. My sympathies to all.

  • Jamey Hansen Posted August 9, 2021 10:48 am

    It was honor to serve with Dr. Palmer on the Hansen Charitable Foundation. Dr. Palmer was very passionate about Family, Rheumatology Research and Southwest Nebraska. I always looked forward to our time together. Bill was a friend and a mentor. He served on the Hansen Charitable Foundation since it’s inception in 1991. My condolences go out to Leslie, Lauren, Lindsey, David and families.

  • Marian Standeven Posted August 9, 2021 1:03 pm

    I am so saddened to learn of Dr. Palmer’s death. I was referred to him by our family doctor when he first started practicing in Omaha in 1978. He has been by doctor for over 40 years. I feel so fortunate and blessed to have known him and to have had him on my healthcare team. He was the model of the best in the physician-patient relationship. I, along with many others, will miss him dearly.

  • Barbara Jo Heenan Posted August 9, 2021 3:06 pm

    I have been a scleroderma patient of Dr. Palmer’s for 22 yrs. I was blessed to have been under his care and watchful eye for all those years. I am deeply saddened to hear of his passing and am honestly so lost. How do you replace the best? I didn’t want to think about his retirement, but I never thought I would outlive him. What a deeply sad day for all of his patients that loved him so much. He supported me and my dreams to start a scleroderma support group in Omaha. He helped feed those dreams in to a scleroderma walk and fundraising event. He was always my biggest cheerleader. When he had to debride my finger in the office, I think he might have shed a tear or two with me. Thank you for sharing him with us. He was an amazing rheumatologist, comedian, story teller and hugger. Our lives are better for having been cared for by him.

  • Travis Wilson Posted August 9, 2021 3:14 pm

    So sorry to hear about Dr Palmer’s passing. I had the privilege to work with him with his current medical software. One thing that always stood out with Dr Palmer was he loved his patients and wanted to provide the best care for them. He will be missed.

  • Dale Michels Posted August 9, 2021 4:19 pm

    Dear Palmer Family, As a classmate of Bill’s, it was my privilege to have known him for over 50 years. He was dedeicated to his patients, medicine, his family and our class. He made sure others knew who the Class of 1973 was and reminded all of us of our need to take good care of each other as well as the people we cared form My sympathies to you and all of the family.

  • Renee DeSmet Posted August 9, 2021 7:12 pm

    I am so very saddened to hear of Dr. Palmer’s passing. May his family and loved ones find peace and strength during this very difficult time.

  • Janet Anzalone Posted August 9, 2021 8:22 pm

    I was a patient of his for at least 20 years, and he will be greatly missed. Sending prayers!

  • Margie Altman Posted August 9, 2021 9:43 pm

    I am so very saddened to learn the passing of dear Dr. Palmer. I have been his patient for the last 34 years and his treatment for my RA has been life changing for me. I truly believe there was no one better. I will miss him more than I can express. Thank you for saving me💔

  • Keo and Uma Sisavanh Posted August 9, 2021 11:29 pm

    We are sorry for the loss of a wonderful and caring man. Dr. Palmer is the most hard working person I have ever met. I would see the Dr on his days off come in to treat his patients. Uma and I have been blessed to have worked for such a great man. Our condolences to Mrs. Palmer and family.

  • Brandy and Jason Reid Sr. Posted August 10, 2021 12:43 pm

    We are shocked and dismayed to learn of the loss of this amazing physician. Dr. Palmer went above and beyond to learn all he could about my husband’s rare condition, and I am sure no one has the expertise he does from her to the Mayo clinic. I will always believe he saved my husband’s life, he is tenacious and he truly cares about his patients. He also treated my mother and daughter over the years. What a loss to the Rheumatology field and to his family. My deepest condolences to his wife and children, our thoughts and prayers are with you during this difficult time.

  • David VanSickle Posted August 10, 2021 1:44 pm

    Our deepest condolences.

    We are enormously sad to hear . Dr. William Palmer passed away. My wife has rheumatoid arthritis and was recently diagnosed with a rare kidney disorder which required our Nephrologist to consult with Dr. Palmer. This was approximately 2 months ago, and she’d had a recent consult just a few weeks ago.

    Dr. Palmer loved people, and even in the midst of serious illness, he continued to coordinate care and have a secession plan in place to make sure those he’d cared for were taken care of. I write this with tears of gratitude. Dr. Palmer reached out to several colleagues and professionals nationally to collaborate with other experts, as a result, Terri is steadily improving and the kidney function has been stabilized. He did all this in the midst of his own suffering. May God bless the family, loved ones and colleagues of Dr. Palmer. Truly a man who touched our lives that will never be forgotten.

  • Vicki Currier Posted August 10, 2021 4:08 pm

    I am so sad to learn of Dr. Palmer’s passing. There is celebration in the streets of heaven at the return of one of God’s BEST servants. I have been a patient for many years, and it was Dr. Palmer who finally put a diagnosis to the issues I’d been having for years (and seen many other doctors about). Thank you to his family, who he was so proud of, for sharing him with us, his patients. I am going to miss his smile, his caring and loving attitude, and his sense of humor. Most of all i will miss his encouragement that we could handle whatever came. Rest in peace, Doc.

  • Jennifer Ventris-Binkley Posted August 10, 2021 8:16 pm

    I’m am so saddened to hear of the passing of Dr. Palmer. He was the most genuine, caring and understanding dr I’ve ever had. Living with rheumatology was very difficult. He helped me to be able to live a normal, pain free life. He made sure medications were perfectly matched to my conditions. He was simply amazing. I remember him telling me I was his favorite red head and I’d tell him he was my favorite Jack Nicholson impersonator. I was truly blessed to have him in my life when life was the toughest. Thank you Dr. Palmer for helping me live pain free and have children of my own. You knew that was always my dream. Prayers to the family. He was one of a kind! The world was a better place because of him!

  • Marc Hapke Posted August 11, 2021 8:26 am

    I was shocked and saddened to learn of the passing of my friend Bill Palmer. He and I started working at Clarkson Hospital at the same time in 1978. It was one of my great pleasures to discuss patients with Bill. I retired & moved out of Omaha 5 years ago, so I didn’t even realize he was ill. This is a terrible loss to the Omaha & Nebraska medical community.

  • Jannette Bogler Posted August 11, 2021 8:40 am

    Sorry to hear about Dr.. Palmer’s passing. I have been a patient of his for about 10 years. Loved his compassion and very witty sense of humor! I will really miss him. Sending condolences to his family!

  • Shelly Inzauro Posted August 11, 2021 11:15 am

    I’m a long time patient of Dr. Palmer and will absolutely miss his presence when I visit the office. Sympathies to the family and his office staff; he will be watching over you all. Sincere condolences.

  • Tony LaMalfa Posted August 11, 2021 11:28 am

    So very sorry for your loss. Bill was a great doctor and a wonderful neighbor.

  • Barbara Briggs Posted August 11, 2021 6:39 pm

    Dr. Palmer has been my physician for forty years, he discovered my Lupus when no one else seemed to know what was happening. Dr. Palmer was truly dedicated to his patients, he was honest and straight about what was happening in my life. Palmer not only was my doctor but my friend. He helped me get through some really trying personal issues while keeping my Lupus under control. Dr. Palmer nick named me Diana Ross,. I was told I was the only patient that didn’t obey the rules , but always stayed healthy. I will truly miss him no one will ever replace the caring Dr. When I referred to him as Dr. Meathead he just smiled.

  • Vic Massara Posted August 12, 2021 9:50 am

    Dr. Palmer was just a great person as well as a dedicated physician who helped so many patients over many years. As a Pharmaceutical Rep who called regularly on Dr. Palmer, he was always gracious with his time, and I learned a lot from him. Even after I retired I continued to see him on social calls to his office. What a great sense of humor! Medicine has lost a great physician and his patients a wonderful friend.

  • Kevin Cooper Posted August 12, 2021 10:28 am

    Dr. Palmer was an exceptional doctor, and I respected him so much. He was also, simply, a great man…and most importantly to me, I considered him to be my friend. He enjoyed taking time to visit with me about my health also about my career in radio. During my ups and downs, he always knew just the right thing to say. And he didn’t have to use too many words. His intelligence and his humor always comforted me, and I knew it was heartfelt. Selfishly, I will miss him very much. But I am praying for him and for those closet to him. Our world here is a bit different now that Dr. Palmer is gone. But God was in need of a man like Dr. Palmer in Heaven. And for that I am happy. Again, peace and blessings to the family and all of the close friends.

  • Larry Jung Posted August 12, 2021 10:50 pm

    My condolences to the family. I have known Bill since I moved to Omaha in in 1996 to fill a void in Pediatric Rheumatology. Bill, who had been taking care some of the children with rheumatic diseases, was very welcoming and collaborative. I have enjoyed his candor and sense of humor in our many academic and clinical meetings. His clinical acumen and love of his patients was very evident at these meetings. He will be missed by his patients, friends and fellow physicians both locally in Omaha as well nationally. I hope fond memories of this incredible man will sustain his family during this difficult period.

  • Lisa Thurber Posted August 13, 2021 12:19 am

    I’m saddened to hear that one of my all time favorite doctors to call on as a drug rep has left us. I adored Dr. Palmer and his sarcastic jokes. Most recently I referred my husband to him for treatment and I would come to his appointments just to catch up and share some laughs. I’ll miss you, my friend.

  • Patricia Lotspeich Posted August 13, 2021 7:25 am

    My sympathies to the family and coworkers of William Palmer. I had the great fortune to have been a patient of Dr. Palmer for nearly two decades. From my first appointment with him, I felt that he had my best interest in mind. He was very knowledgeable, sincere and a doctor with whom I had complete trust. He will be greatly missed.

  • LaNeta Carlock, Haigler Community Foundation Posted August 13, 2021 2:08 pm

    Dear Dr. Bill–how he will be missed! It was an honor to know and work with him through the Hansen Charitable Foundation for over 35 years. He was such a kind and caring man and never forgot where he came from–southwest Nebraska and North Platte. Always, he was such a support to the Haigler Village projects and then the Haigler Community Foundation projects. His influence will continue on into the future. Sending sincere sympathies to his family.

  • Julie Gershon Posted August 13, 2021 2:35 pm

    I have been seeing Dr. Palmer for 35 yrs., he was a wonderful Dr. and a beautiful soul. I will miss him. My prayers go out to everyone who knew him.

  • Gerald Luckey Posted August 13, 2021 2:51 pm

    It was a privilege to be in the UNMC class of ‘73 with Bill. He was a true bright spot for all of us and we admired his knowledge and wit. He advocated for high quality medicine and took leadership roles in organizations that enhanced value and quality for patients..
    We will all miss him.

  • Julie Pouncil Posted August 13, 2021 7:33 pm

    WOW!!! My heart is heaven. Dr. Palmer you definitely served well. You will truly be missed

  • Lucille Mickells Posted August 13, 2021 8:43 pm

    I was shocked and heartbroken to read of Dr. Planet’s death. He was a pillar of strength. His large stature was only one part of his larger than life presence. The last time I was there, he reminded me that he was not only my doctor but also my friend. We loved talking politics and Nebraska football. We must never forget how fragile life is. There will never be another like Him!

  • William F Coker Posted August 14, 2021 10:12 am

    My sympathy to the family and friends of Dr. Palmer. He was my doctor for 37 years and my friend for almost that many. I always felt welcome as more than a patient. We shared not only about the progression of my disease but also about our families, current events–whatever was on his mind. I will miss his friendly, professional advice, his sense of humor, and his friendship. May Jesus give you comfort at this time of loss.

  • Cynthia Gildersleeve Posted August 14, 2021 10:35 am

    I was a patient of Dr. Palmer since the age of 14, so about a total of 40 years. He was not only my dr, but also my friend. I will really miss him. My thought are with his family.

  • Jeannie Beister Posted August 14, 2021 11:07 am

    Mike and I , also Christina are sadden by Dr Palmer’s passing. he always told it like it was.
    his staff has always taken great care of Mike and Chrissy.. He will be truly missed. Rest in peace, Dr Palmer. God bless the family and his wonderful staff. He touched so many lives. he loved his work.

  • Geri Lynn Rudloff Posted August 14, 2021 2:06 pm

    I sent my thoughts earlier in the week. As the week has gone by and I watched his service today.I want to also thank the family for sharing their father,husband and grandfather. He was a very special doctor and friend. We would talk about family.He always remembered most of mine. I would ask about his. For 37 years we talked and he assisted me in my journey of R.A. I don’t know how I will manage to trust anyone like I trusted him. God bless you Dr.Palmer.

  • Ron and Phyllis Brunken Posted August 17, 2021 4:42 pm

    Our sincere condolences to the Palmer family. I have been a patient of Dr. Palmer for 21 years. He and Dr. Lon Keim diagnosed my rare autoimmune disease and helped me manage it for all those years. He kept me going getting through flare ups. My husband was greatly comforted during our many visits. I always appreciated his calls that Dr. Palmer made in the evening to share test results and to find out how I was doing. Thank you to his family for sharing him with his many patients. It was a great show k to learn of his passing. May God comfort you in your time of grief.

  • Steve Smith Posted August 18, 2021 1:28 pm

    Leslie – I was saddened to hear of Bill’s passing. I have many fond memories of working with him The service was beautiful and the love in the room from all was obvious. We will all miss him. Steve Smith

  • Denise Payne Posted August 18, 2021 3:31 pm

    Condolences to the family, I have been with Dr Palmer for 10 years. When I first met him, he gave me a year and said get yourself a fishing pole and enjoy your time. Here I am 9 years later due to him. He saw me threw the roller coaster with scleroderma and mental changes that come with it. Always fought for me in every way. Want to thank his family for sharing him with me, he will always be my hero !!

  • Amber Fichter Posted August 18, 2021 7:14 pm

    I am devastated to find out about the passing of Dr. Palmer. He has treated me for the past 20 years. He diagnosed me with lupus and RA when I was 18, and he has literally saved my life more than once. I’ll never forget when I was in the hospital with kidney and heart failure, he told me “I’ll give you one of my own kidneys if that’s what it takes!” He was much more than just a doctor to me. I considered him a friend, and always looked forward to my visits with him. We always joked around, and he’d tell us stories from his life. He’d always ask if I brought him a Dilly Bar (because my family owned a Dairy Queen), so one time many years ago, I brought him a plastic Dilly Bar as a joke. He always made sure to tell me that he still kept that Dilly Bar on his desk. He was definitely one of a kind, and will be greatly missed. My thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends.

  • Krista S Filipi Posted August 25, 2021 9:33 am

    My heart breaks for those who love Dr. Palmer! I have been his patient since I was 17 years old. He was a fierce and lovable fighter for me and my medical needs. I owe him my vision and my everyday freedom.

  • Karrie Reynolds Posted August 25, 2021 10:59 am

    I am absolutely heartbroken that today I was informed of the passing of Dr. Palmer, by my new primary care physician (whom Dr. Palmer encouraged me to establish). I send all my prayers to his family for healing and peace at this time. I was a patient of his for over 30 years, referred to him by my college doctor in NM. He shared in all of my developmental life stages including most recently enjoying talking about his daughter’s work experiences and his friend in France as my daughter was leaving to France during the pandemic. His sense of humor will be greatly missed. He always loved to see my fiery redhead passion when bantering politics. He would tell it like it is and thoroughly enjoyed that I would tell it right back. He looked forward to hearing my strategies for handling my professional billing issues with astonishment. Dr. Palmer was a great physician and a dear father-like friend. Rest in peace.

  • Harry McFadden MD Posted August 25, 2021 3:25 pm

    A friend who was always smiling. Bill you will be missed. My condolences to the family.

  • Emily Robinson Posted August 30, 2021 5:40 pm

    I am heartbroken to hear of Dr Palmers passing today. He was my doctor for over 30 years and I will always remember him as such a kind soul with great humor who would have a smile on him and make you laugh. I will miss him greatly!

  • Sarah Bjorkman Posted September 1, 2021 12:35 pm

    I received the news today of Dr. Palmer’s passing and my heart is heavy for the loss of such a great man and doctor. I will miss his stories, kindness and honesty he provided while treating my RA. He would tell me that I should I be the poster child for RA and it was like my own dad giving me a pat on the back for overcoming a great obstacle. He spent with his patients and got to know them personally, this is rare in today’s world. It is such a great loss for all who knew him. My thoughts and prayers are with his family.

  • Sallee Hrbek Posted September 8, 2021 4:02 pm

    I just heard of Dr. Palmers passing. My sincere condolences to the Dear Palmer Family, co-workers, friends and family pets.
    I was referred by my primary physician five years ago. Dr Palmer knew first hand my diagnosis and treatment. He was thorough, knowledgeable and helpful. We have lost a great doctor and a doctor friend to each of his patients. He was just an all around good Human Being.
    Bless your soul Dr Palmer.

  • Bud and LuAnn Hott Posted September 29, 2021 5:53 pm

    I just received the letter from Westroads Rheumatology regarding Dr. Palmer’s passing. He has been my doctor for the last several years. My husband was always ready to go to Omaha for my appt with Dr. Palmer as he loved visiting with him! Appointments with Dr Palmer were always professional, informative and entertaining. He knew how to put you at ease, explain treatments and care and send you home with a laugh and smiles for the next 6 months. Dr. Palmer’s staff is second to none and I’m sure a direct reflection of him. I feel blessed to have met him and honored to have been his patient. My sympathy to his family, relatives, friends and staff at Westroads Rheumatology.
    LuAnn Hott, Newell, IA.

  • Renee Coury Posted November 4, 2021 10:11 pm

    I really feel bad that it has taken me this long to give my condolences. I was shocked to hear of Dr Palmer’s passing via the letter.
    He was my rheumatologist since 1978. He was always so kind to me. I will miss him. To Leslie and the family my deepest sympathy.

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