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Kenneth "Ken" Plante


1939 - 2015 Notice Condolences
Kenneth "Ken" Plante Notice
Plante, Kenneth KenFormer Florida State Senator Kenneth A. "Ken" Plante has succumbed to Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (Lou Gehrig's Disease). He was 75 years old. Preceded in death by his father and mother: Lawrence D. & Mary Ann "Mae" Plante, brother: Donald, Sister-in-law: Jane, sister: Carol, father-in-law: Richard Crawford; Plante is survived by his wife of 55 years: Sandy, mother-in-law: Myrtle Crawford; children Ken and Sheri, Jim, Melanie, Jon, Mark, Colleen, and Michelle, 3 nieces, 7 nephews, 14 grandchildren, and 10 great grandchildren. His commitment to family, personal integrity, selfless generosity and endless smile are what his family will most remember him for. Born December 17, 1939, Plante attended the University of Florida. Recruited to play running back for the football team, he remained a lifelong Gator, though he followed and was proud of the scholastic and athletic accomplishments of the other in-state institutions. Plante was elected to the Senate in 1967 and served until 1978. Representing the Winter Park area, at 26 years of age, Senator Plante was the second youngest to ever win election to the Senate. He served with distinction. Widely viewed as the leading expert on the Rules of the Senate, Senator Plante won numerous awards for effectiveness in committee, debate, and, overall legislative performance. At a time when the Legislature was dominated by the Democratic Party, Republican Party member Plante's talents were recognized by the Democrat party leadership in his appointment to key committee assignments including Chair of the Ways and Means Subcommittee on Health and Rehabilitative Services. He was a champion for education, economic development and for persons with disabilities and is credited with establishing funding for neonatal care centers for newborn babies in Florida's hospitals. Plante also sponsored Legislation that enabled the development of the Disney World Theme Park. While serving in in the Senate he nurtured the formation and early growth of the University of Central Florida. Preceding his final years in office, Senate Democrats offered to elect him President of the Senate if he would switch party affiliation. In a display of loyalty to the Republican Party, and to his fellow caucus members, he refused the offer and served as Minority Leader during his final two years in the Senate. Upon retirement from the Senate, Senator Plante became a well -regarded and successful lobbyist. His advice and counsel was often sought by Governors, Agency Heads, members of the Legislature, staff and lobbyists. He will be remembered as a kind-hearted mentor to many people who are now in senior positions of state government, law firms and other enterprises. In 1999, at the request of Governor Jeb Bush, Senator Plante left his lucrative lobbying practice to become Director of Legislative Affairs for the Executive Office of the Governor. Bush said "Plante met the terrible diagnosis in the way he seemed to face all challenges - with great courage, incredible resolve, and unwavering faith." Bush noted that "Ken was a steady hand, and provided our team with the much needed reassurance that 'everything would be okay in the end' during our first legislative session. We were chaotic, but Ken was always calm, and his experience helped us navigate the process." Following his service to Governor Bush, Plante continued to serve for many years as a lobbyist, and worked to create the Florida Association of Professional Lobbyists in order to bring increased ethics to the process of lobbying. Plante founded and served as the first President of Tax Watch, an organization formed to help instill responsible budgeting practices in state government. He received a lifetime achievement award from Leadership Florida in 2012, and the Florida State Senate recently named its Senate Presidents' Conference room in his honor. Colleagues remember Plante as "one of the outstanding senators of his time of this whole generation," according to former Democrat Senate President Gwen Margolis, a current Senator from Miami. Senator Jack Latvala of St. Petersburg, a young field staffer for the Republican Party of Florida in 1975, recalled going to meet with Plante and other GOP Senators to describe his plans to challenge Democrat Senate incumbents. "Kenny gave me my first glimpse of how the Senate worked," shared Latvala. "He told me that those potential opponents were their friends, and that people in the Senate work together. It did not make much difference whether you were a Republican or a Democrat - everybody kind of works together. And that's been a valuable perspective that I've kept all these years." Recruited by Plante to run for the state House in 1976, former two-term Senate President and Lt. Governor Toni Jennings reflected on the lessons she learned from Plante. "With Ken, his word was his bond," she said. "If he couldn't support something, he was up front about it. And Ken lived both his private and his public life in a way that reflected his principles - ethically, honestly, and with an ability to disagree on issues but allow for productive dialogue," shared Jennings. "Florida is a better place because of Ken's leadership. He will be greatly missed." Friends may call at Culley's MeadowWood Funeral Home, Riggins Road, Thursday (3/5) from 6 until 8 PM. Funeral services will be at the Good Shepherd Catholic Church, 4665 Thomasville Rd, Tallahassee, FL 32309, Friday (3/6) at 11:00 AM. A private burial will follow the service. In lieu of flowers the family suggests donations to: Kenneth A. Plante Trust, 225 S. Adams #250, Tallahassee, FL 32301. Culley's MeadowWood Funeral Home, 1737 Riggins Road, Tallahassee is in charge of services.
Published in the Orlando Sentinel on Mar. 5, 2015
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