In honour of their brother, father, grandfather and great-grandfather, the Palmantier family is holding a celebration of life for George Palmantier on Monday, Aug. 3 in Williams Lake at Rink #1 in the Cariboo Memorial Complex.
George passed away at 11:04 p.m. on July 6, 2015 at 73 years of age after suffering a heart attack.
Born on Oct. 29, 1941, George grew up with his parents Leonard and Josephine Palmantier, homesteading in the Riske Creek area. He had four sisters and two brothers.
“I am proud of my brother George who was an all around cowboy competing in all the rodeo events; saddle bronc, bareback, bulls, steer wrestling, calf roping and team roping,” sister Joan Gentles said as the family gathered to share some memories last week.
“This is rare today as most people specialize in certain events.”
George got his start at rodeos when he was 14, inspired by his brother Fred who was already competing.
In an article written in 1986 about George’s rodeo career, friend Allan Hunt said George had already entertained rodeo fans for 30 years.
“The young rookies look up to him,” Hunt said at the time.
George won numerous championship awards in many rodeo competitions but 1975 and 1979 All Around awards stood out for him.
This was because his friend and brother-in-law Bill Gentles Memorial Award accompanied this all around award for the year. George donated this very special award representing family to the Museum of the Cariboo Chilcotin.
In 1984 he was at the top of the standings in the IRA, WRA and YRCA, etc. In one year he won four IRA Championships: steer wrestling, bull riding, saddle bronc and all around cowboy.
His son Clay Palmantier remembers thinking his dad and uncles were rodeo idols.
One event that looms large in Clay’s memory is a rodeo match held in Fort St. John involving the IRA and the Northern Rodeo Association (NRA) for the very first time.
“All the talk around was about who had the best cowboys,” Clay recalled. “It was as big as the Canada versus Russia hockey series at the time.”
In the end everyone at the match banded together.
“It didn’t matter what association you were in, all the cowboys and cowgirls got behind each other,” Clay said. “It was monumental.”
Brother Fred rode for the NRA and George, Jack, Joan and Caroline rode for the IRA. Their father Leonard was instrumental in helping get the Williams Lake Stampede started and was inducted into the B.C. Cowboy Hall of Fame in 2000.
Fred, George, Jack and Joan were inducted in the B.C. Cowboy Hall of Fame in 2006.
George was also a trickster, Joan and Jack insisted.
Joan remembered the time she climbed into bed to discover her brother had placed a hobbled frog inside the sheets at the foot of the bed.
Another time when she was very young and learning to drive the team of horses hooked to the hay sloop during haying, George would interfere by singing Old Black Joe.
“As soon as the horses heard the “O” they would stop, and get stuck in the middle of the creek crossing,” Joan laughed, shaking her head.
“Dad couldn’t figure what was going on.”
George was also an excellent cook, Jack said.
“He loved his cayenne and would cook up stews and soups that were so hot,” Jack recalled, noting George took pride in his turkey dinners as well.
Chuckling Jack recalled a time he told his daughters just to eat the stew and not let on that it was hot.
That little joke got George wondering if he’d put in enough cayenne.
George was happily introduced to his daughter, Sharon Duffy, later on in life.
Sharon was adopted at birth and when she became of age found out who her birth parents were.
At the time Sharon had four children of her own and George became a proud grandpa. Sharon and her brother Clay now live close to one another.
George did different jobs such as working on the most recent upgrade to the Farwell Canyon road, fencing, some ranch work, then got into falling trees in logging. He was known for his precision as a saw filer.
He fell trees until Joan’s husband Bill Gentles was killed in a tree falling accident on Feb. 13, 1975.
After discussing this with his wife Caroline, George left his tree falling career and went driving logging trucks.
He owned his own trucking company, George Palmantier Trucking, for a while.
Then he started driving for other companies such as Gort and Arnold Bremner Trucking, as well as Tsi Del Del and Eldorado whom he drove for right to his final week.
“Dad always told me whatever you are trying to do, do it to the best of your ability and don’t do anything half-way,” Clay said.
“That was dad. He was legendary at rodeo, at logging as a faller and driving logging trucks and of course, being a trickster.”
The Palmantier family is giving everyone that knew George the opportunity to bid him farewell at the celebration of life Aug. 3 at the Cariboo Memorial Complex. The doors open at noon and the celebration begins at 1 p.m. with help from rodeo announcer Keith Dinwoodie as the master of ceremonies.
The Palmantier family is very thankful for all of the condolences received from far and near and also to all family and friends for making the Celebration of Life happen for George.