Thoughts on Jack Plumley’s passing

Published Mar 14, 2017 at 4:00pm

What a delight to see Jack Plumley at the dedication of the new Rome campus buildings of Mohawk Valley Community College. He was front row, center, and deserved to be, in the building that carried his name.

His face brightened into a wide smile as, out of courtesy for his 87 years, we reintroduced ourselves. “Of course, I know you. I don’t move around so well anymore, but I think as sharp as ever.”

We spent some minutes recalling the good people we both have known. There were so many who gravitated toward him. They sought his company because he was “good people” himself.

He took time to listen, time to understand, time to question, and time to challenge.

“I’ve been a subscriber to the Rome Sentinel forever — for about 10,000 years, and you do a mighty good job, but why can’t you . . .” and he’d give us a positive suggestion for the community and the county.

We wrote back to him once, respectfully disagreeing with one of his suggestions for the newspaper. He wrote back warmly, that he understood why we were writers, telling him “no” couched in so many words.

Jack passed on last week, and others will echo the praise he deserves. Three special delights are worthy of note. The first is Helen, who chose to marry Jack, as he chose her. The second is their place in the woods — heaven on earth. The third is a wonderful family — every member molded with a little bit of Jack’s kindness, spark, and joy.

Jack once told us that he aspired to no higher office than County Executive. “As County Executive, we can still get things done.” He was correct. A county of 100,000 households was almost manageable — larger than that would have been too political, too unwieldy, and not at all personable. Jack was, above all else, personable.