City of Oaks Funeral Home & Cremation

William "Bill" McKee Palmer

Fuquay Varina, North Carolina

Age 87.
Died 01/05/2023.

William "Bill" McKee Palmer
William "Bill" McKee Palmer, age 87, passed away peacefully on January 5th 2023, surrounded by loved ones. He was born on December 6, 1935 to Elizabeth "Lib" Sawyer and Vernon Palmer. His mother passed when he was just 6 years old, leaving him to be raised by his grandmother.

He is survived by his wife of 17 years Jo-Ella Fortin and his step-daughters, Michelle (Jay) Martin, Brigitte (Doug) Mayes and step-grandchildren, Angela, Joshua and Hope.

Bill grew up in downtown Raleigh, frequenting the NC Museum of Natural Sciences where he developed a love for reptiles and amphibians. He began working part-time at the Museum in 1951 making just $0.35 an hour. He attended Atlantic Christian College (known now as Barton College) and obtained a degree in zoology, Bill then went on to attend NC State University where he got his masters in Herpetology. In 1963, Bill joined the Museum's staff full-time as a Curator of Zoology. Through cataloging specimens left in an old closet, some of which dated back to 1895, Bill began the research collection at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences, currently one of the largest and most complete regional collections of preserved amphibians and reptiles in the US. Through his research and cataloging of species, Bill identified and named a seperate species of glass lizard, the mimic glass lizard in 1987. He then went on to author and co-author 3 books. In March of 2008, Bill was awarded the Long Leaf Pine award for his contributions to the NC Museum of Natural Sciences. Bill eventually retired in 1995, earning the title of emeritus curator and continuing to volunteer part-time at the museum until June of 2016. Bill discovered the rare joy of working a job that as he said “never felt like a job”.
Bill will forever be remembered by many for his razor sharp wit, kindness, humbleness, and for his dedication and appreciation for all of the misunderstood creatures that play a vital role in our ecosystem.

As quoted by Bill from his Oak Leaf high school yearbook, "Worry never accomplished anything worthwhile". So go forth and worry not for Bill is at peace, dancing with his mama.

A celebration of life will be held at Fuquay-Varina United Methodist Church on Saturday, January 14th at 1:30 PM.

To best honor his memory and passion for researching reptiles and amphibians the family is asking that in lieu of flowers donations be made to the NC Museum of Natural Sciences at (indicate donation is for the “Herpetology Unit” in the Comments box) or to the NC Herpetological Society (NCHS) at

For additional information or for service details, please reach out to the family directly.

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City of Oaks Cremation and Funeral Home is a full-service funeral home in Raleigh, serving all of North Carolina and beyond. We provide an alternative to costly funeral homes and every day we help families in Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill and all over North Carolina make simple, affordable funeral arrangements.

Simply having to reach out to a funeral home can feel overwhelming. Our goal is to simplify the entire funeral home experience and make the process as easy as possible. We hope to eliminate any unnecessary surprises by publishing our total cost and the services we provide directly on our website. All of our obituaries are provided free of charge as a way to help families celebrate and commemorate the lives of their loved ones.

Our Promise

Apples to Apples

Just like all other licensed funeral homes in North Carolina, City of Oaks Cremation, LLC is regulated by the NC Board of Funeral Service.

The same laws that apply to the big corporate funeral homes also apply to the modest independently owned firms like ours. All crematories in North Carolina, regardless of who owns them, are inspected annually by the state and must adhere to the same rules and laws.

Genuine Care

We're committed to providing families within our community unsurpassed service before, during and after the time of loss.

Our staff will provide clear communication to your family through each step as we move forward from the original phone call notifying us of a death to the time we deliver the urn back to your family. We will treat your family with the utmost respect, as we honor the wishes of your loved one.

We promise to make this process affordable and as endurable as possible.

State Wide

Our Funeral Home is located in Wake County NC; however, we provide our services to families throughout the entire State.

Unlike other funeral homes, we don't charge an additional mileage fee. Regardless of what county you live in, we can help your family with making simple, affordable funeral arrangements. From Asheville to Wilmington, we're proud to help families statewide.

Our Services

Direct Cremation


Nobody likes surprise costs added in at the last minute. We guarantee you will not find any hidden charges here. We include everything you need for a simple or direct cremation. Simple, affordable and reliable. We have not changed the cost of our direct cremation service since we opened City of Oaks in 2012.

Cremation with Solidified Remains


We offer the option of choosing how you receive your loved ones remains. Selecting our Direct Cremation with Solidified Remains option is a beautiful way to transform cremated remains into 40-60 “stones” that you can hold.

Cremation with Visitation


City of Oaks Funeral Home and Cremation provides an affordable cremation option with onsite visitation. Nobody likes surprise costs added in at the last minute. We guarantee you will not find any hidden charges here. Simple, affordable and reliable.

Immediate Burial


An immediate burial has the same end result as a traditional burial; however, we have eliminated the extra (sometimes unnecessary) services prior to getting to the cemetery. Not everyone wants an open casket for viewing or a limousine for the family. Despite the term immediate, we can move as fast as you need or as slow as you like. This option simply allows you to save money by eliminating some of the fancy extras at the funeral home.

Traditional Funeral


We offer the same traditional funeral services as the big corporately owned funeral homes in the area; however, we cost about half the amount. You might consider a traditional funeral service if your family is looking for an open casket visitation, a traditional church service or a funeral service in the funeral home's chapel. A traditional funeral service can be altered to fit the needs of your family.

Green Burial


This establishment is one of a select number of funeral homes who meet the criteria for providing green funeral service by the Green Burial Council; a tax-exempt, nonprofit organization working to encourage environmentally sustainability in the field of funeral service. Our Green options allow for a funeral to take place without the use of toxic and non-biodegradable materials/chemicals.



As an alternative to traditional cremation, City of Oaks Funeral Home also offers Aquamation. The Aquamation process, often referred to as alkaline hydrolysis, uses a solution of water and potassium hydroxide to facilitate natural decomposition.

City of Oaks Funeral Home & Cremations