Palmer Douglas Wexler, engineer and artist, first-generation American and World War II veteran, loving family patriarch and friend, passed away peacefully on August 23, 2021.
He died the day after his late wife's birthday, with family at his bedside, at his home in Sandy Springs, Georgia. He was 96.
In all endeavors, Doug was happiest in motionbuilding, drawing, repairing, traveling, dancingand everyone knew he never slowed down. He had a sharp mind, a steadfast resolve, and an old-fashioned reverence for putting in the work.
Doug was born on September 23, 1924, in Carteret, New Jersey, to Sophie and Samuel Wexler, Jewish immigrants from Russia. By the time Doug and his three brothersMeyer, Richard, and Ralphwere growing up, their father was in the ice business, and they helped haul blocks of ice to customers before school. Doug graduated from Carteret High School at 16, going on to spend a year at art school in New York City.
During World War II, Doug joined the Army's 303rd Signal Operations Battalion, arriving in Europe on his 19th birthday. He served in France, Belgium, and Germany, earning Ardennes and Rhineland campaign stars. In the summer of 1945, Doug's unit boarded a ship bound for Okinawa; somewhere between Bermuda and Cuba, the captain came on the loudspeaker: "Watch the shadows on the ship change as it turns to
New York." The war had ended. Doug recalled in a personal diary, "It was the greatest thrill I've ever experienced." On August 18, Doug's ship docked in New York Harbor, the first diverted troop carrier to return to the states.
Ten days after his discharge, Doug began his freshman year at the University of Virginia. He was a member of Tau Beta Pi, the engineering honor society, graduating with a degree in electrical engineering in 1949. He spent 16 years at General Electric, before joining companies such as Bunker Ramo, General Instruments, Bendix, and Talley Industries (Westclox). Throughout his career, Doug worked in a variety of manufacturing, general management, and international positions, conducting business across six continents.
In 1952, Doug met Delores Seskin over a game of ping pong, which she won. Six weeks later, they were engaged. Six months later, they were married. They raised three children, and Doug's career kept the family on the move; he'd find a job, and she'd find a house. He'd cut out scale models of their furniture, and she'd arrange them in scale models of every room. When she got sick, two years before her death in 1996, Doug doted on her; he took such good care of her, she would say, it was like being on a second honeymoon.
After a short, boring retirement, Doug joined Amrep, Inc., in 1989, working as vice president of manufacturing. In 1991, he became Amrep's sales representative for Asia, as well as the product coordinator with Timeplex. He made his last overseas business trip at 87, taking the red eye home.
Doug was forever fine-tuning and tinkering. In his hands, abandoned railroad ties became a retaining wall; plywood and paint became a ping-pong table. One indelible memory is seeing him on his garage roofDoug atop a chair, chair atop plywood, plywood secured perpendicular to the roof's peakso he could paint the second-floor siding. "It's perfectly fine," he said, waving off expressions of concern, "it's all in the planning."
Into his 90s, Doug climbed ladders, trimmed bushes, and lowered himself onto the floor to play with his great-grandchildren. He was a lifelong baseball fan, golfer, and stamp collector; he was also a volunteer driver, delivering Meals on Wheels for Jewish Family & Career Services and Senior Connections, and an aerobics instructor for his senior living community during the coronavirus lockdowns. In recent years, with his longtime companion and best friend Jane Greenberger, he enjoyed traveling the world and playing daily games of Rummikub.
He is survived by his partner Jane Greenberger; children Barbara Cooper, Robert Wexler (Anne Scott), and Lynn Crane-Wexler (Liz Crane-Wexler); grandchildren Aaron Cooper (Sylvia Cooper), Andrew Cooper (Rachel Cooper), Adriane Schneider (Evan Schneider), Ellen Wexler, and Dan Wexler; great-grandchildren Jillian, Jacob, and Avi; many nieces, nephews, great-nieces, great-nephews, a great-great-niece, great-great-nephews; and Jane's children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren.
Doug was interred in the Wexler family plot at Cedar Park Cemetery in Paramus, New Jersey next to his wife and family. Donations on his behalf may be made to Friends of the National World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C. or to Jewish Family & Career Services in Atlanta. Arrangements by Dressler's Funeral Care, 770-451-4999.