Mark L. Plummer
1954 - 2014
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Mark L. Plummer

Mark Plummer passed away Saturday, May 24, 2014, peacefully at his home in Federal Way, WA. A devoted husband and father, Mark will be profoundly missed by his wife Cassie Phillips and their children, Rob and Lisa, who were the light of his life.

Mark was born in Seattle on Sept. 5, 1954. Besides his wife and children, he is survived by parents David and Jean Lee Plummer of Bellevue; brother and sister-in-law Larry Plummer and Gretchen Fennema of Seattle and niece Melissa Plummer of Washington, DC; and sister and brother-in-law Susan and Doug Gann of Leavenworth and their children, Jennifer Gann and husband Tag Savage of Brooklyn, NY, Brody Gann of New York, NY, and Brian Gann of Seattle.

Mark earned a PhD in economics from the University of Washington. He began his career as an economist for the Federal Trade Commission in Washington, DC, where his wife worked for Senator Slade Gorton and their children were born. But Mark refused to countenance living anywhere but the Pacific Northwest, where his pioneer ancestor Alfred Plummer helped found Port Townsend, so the family returned to live in Seattle, Vancouver, WA, and Federal Way. Mark relished meticulously planned expeditions to the region's ski resorts, golf courses, BBQ joints, fine restaurants, and, especially, wineries. He was also an early computer game enthusiast and beta tester. Mark lived life to the fullest and had few regrets, except perhaps the amount of Oregon pinot noir left to his wife.

Mark devoted his professional life to bringing the principles of economics into practical use. He brought intellectual energy, scientific rigor, and a sharp wit to this mission. His interests centered on the interactions of people and the natural world, beginning with his doctoral dissertation on California grape growers and wine labels (which, he would say, forced him to begin his wine collection). With his close friend Charles C. Mann, he co-authored two books, The Aspirin Wars and Noah's Choice: the Future of Endangered Species; the latter won the 1996 Washington Governor's Writers Award. He closed his career working for NOAA's Northwest Fisheries Science Center, in a job he described as "the best in the world, doing meaningful work for an agency with a meaningful mission." He developed a novel approach to evaluating the economics of designating critical habitat for salmon, for which he won a high profile agency award, in spite of (he noted) his penchant for wearing loud Hawaiian shirts. More recently he investigated the social and economic consequences of changes in natural ecosystems, such as the waters and resources of Puget Sound.

Mark believed in God's transformative power and that his journey would end in a state of Grace. He was a member of Grace Lutheran Church, where a memorial service will be held on Friday, June 6th at 3:30 pm, Grace Lutheran Church, 22975 24th Ave S, Des Moines, WA 98198.

Mark served on the board of the Washington chapter of The Nature Conservancy until illness intervened. In lieu of flowers, donations in Mark's honor may be made to TNC at 1917 1st Ave S, Seattle WA 98101 or by calling Dan Hoon at 206-343-4344.

Please sign Mark's online Guestbook at

To Plant Memorial Trees in memory, please visit our Sympathy Store.
Published in The Seattle Times on Jun. 1, 2014.
Memorial service
03:30 PM
Memories & Condolences
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33 entries
February 2, 2020
Mark was a lovely man that I knew way back when via the Internet. I just now learned of his passing and hope that his family will belatedly receive my condolences.
J. Brodsky
April 17, 2018
I worked with Mark at NOAA for a year. He was perhaps the kindest mentor I ever had. Mark will always be in my thoughts.
Prabirendra Chatterjee
August 25, 2014
Please accept my condolences. Mark was a friend and important mentor to me while I was at UW. I will miss him greatly.
My warmest regards
Dean Lueck
DEAN Lueck
August 25, 2014
Mark was ahead of me at grad school by a couple of years, and we all looked to him as a giant in the department. Yet he was gracious to the incoming students and I appreciated the comments he gave me on my work. I pass my condolences to his family on his untimely passing, but note with confidence that they will one day be reunited through Christ.
Doug Allen
July 13, 2014
I will miss Mark and always be grateful for his friendship and support during the days we spent together in grad school. His professional work In the all too few visits or conversations we had in the years afterwards, his love for Cassie, Lisa and Rob, was ever so obvious.
Torben Andersen
July 12, 2014
Cassie and family, so sorry about your loss.
Felix Madrid
June 26, 2014
Sorry for your loss...D
Dave Hassan
June 25, 2014
Cassie and family. My sincere sympathy. I always admired Mark. He had that rare magical perfect blend of humor and wisdom.
Rod Wentworth
June 4, 2014
Looks like he led an incredible life after the IHS days, you all must be so proud...sorry for your loss.
Gail Sheridan (fellow of interlake class of 72)
June 4, 2014
Mark and Cassie, 2008
Cassie Phillips
June 4, 2014
Mark and son Rob Plummer, 2013
Cassie Phillips
June 4, 2014
Mark as a UW undergrad, in 1975
Cassie Phillips
June 3, 2014
Cassie and family - Our thoughts are with you. As Mark predicted, he is now is a state of grace, and holding all of you closely. Love to all, Beth Blanchard and Felix Smith
June 3, 2014
Cassie and family, so sorry to learn of your loss. We remember well our golf outing with Mark and Cassie and wish there could have been many more. God bless you all. Paul & Sibyl
June 3, 2014
David, so sorry to hear about your son's passing. I can only imagine the sad you must feel.
With Sympathy,
Barb Kenney
Barb Kenney
June 3, 2014
Kathryn Fewell-Hulbert
June 2, 2014
A sweet youngster who turned into a wonderful sounding famly and professional man. The world was made better for him.
Elaine Huggins (Moreland)
June 2, 2014
Cassie and family - I was so saddened to hear of Mark's passing. Your family has been in my thoughts and prayers and despite my sorrow, I have often been smiling as I remember Mark's laughter and his passion for life. He is a wonderful example to all of us on living life to the fullest, with humor, intelligence, and courage. He will be greatly missed.
Caroline Mann
June 2, 2014
Cassie and family: Sorry to hear of Mark's passing. Prayers to you all at this time.
Robert Lien
June 2, 2014
Cassie and family,
My deepest sympathies. so enjoyed our visit at the 40th, hard to accept the news of Mark's untimely passing. Sending prayers and thoughts your way. Sue '72
sue stack christianson
June 2, 2014
Cassie & Family, You have my heartfelt condolences for your loss. May God in His gentle mercy, comfort you. Katie (Brown) Hanzeli, '72.
Kathleen (Katie) M. (Brown) Hanzeli
June 2, 2014
Mark Plummer taught me in high school how to road bike with joy and care for birds with broken wings. He was a brilliant and funny person. I am sorry to hear of his untimely death. My deepest condolences to Cassie, his patents, children and friends.
Joe Jennings
June 2, 2014
Dear Cassie - I was so sorry to hear of Mark's passing. We all share so many memories together; the high school and college years, living on the east coast where I celebrated with the two of you at the hospital right after Robert's birth (I have never seen a man so thrilled at being a father as Mark was that night!) and then back in Seattle establishing our careers. I deeply respected Mark for making the decision to work from home - and so successfully - so he could be a loving hands on Dad. Truly a life well-lived. June Peoples
June Peoples
June 2, 2014
So sorry for your loss. I will keep you and your families in my thought and prayers.

With Deepest Sympathy,
Nancy Phillips Brode
June 2, 2014
Dear Cassie, Pat and I send you our deepest condolences on your loss. We will keep you in our prayers.
Rick Cantrell
June 2, 2014
Dear Cassie, I am stunned and saddened to hear about Mark's passing. What a loss to the world and all who knew and admired him for his intellect, passion and character. My condolences to you and your family.
June Kinoshita
June 2, 2014
One of Mark's proudest possessions was a hand written letter from Paul Samuelson commenting on Mark's working paper on uncertainty and the Le Chatelier principle. He would be pleased to hear from you, Gene.
Cassie Phillips
June 2, 2014
I am a friend since high school. Beyond his family, he will be missed by all whose lives he impacted positively. I will also miss his contributions to the Plummer/Phillips unique, great humorous holiday cards - although by the comment about the Oregon pinot noir left to Cassie (classic Mark wording) it appears this gift of humor writing has passed to his family.
I am a physician and something Mark wrote ?? 20 years ago had an impact on my practice. He was going to a doctor appointment to get results on a test that could have had life threatening consequences (luckily it was a good/negative result). He wrote in his usual humorous while insightful way of trying to get clues from the receptionist as to what the result was - would she look him in the eye? how did she address him? was she cheerful? etc. After going on for a few paragraphs he wrote that he finally realized the receptionist was just doing the receptionist job and she didn't know him, why he was there and certainly not what the results were! This reinforced for me that often people can be anxious about test results so I try to call and inform patients as soon as we get results (with some exceptions) ... and so far only a few have figured out my secret: if my staff is calling its good news, if I'm calling not so good.
Cassie, Robert, Lisa - obviously its difficult now, but cherish the many great memories.
Sam Slonim
June 2, 2014
dearest cassie, lisa and rob,

i'm so sorry to hear this news. i'm thinking of each of you, along with the rest of your family. take care of yourselves through this difficult time.

trish bondurant
June 1, 2014
I recall serving with Mark on the board of the Seattle Wadorf School. He brought devotion, well founded questions,and wit to the work. I am saddened to hear of his passing at so young an age. His efforts will live on in the as his efforts and spirit touch upon the shores as waves from pebble dropped in a pond, and echo from the shores they reach, and rebound from. Thank you Mark.
I send my condolences to his family and friends on you loss.
Jimmy Jet
June 1, 2014
Few people in the resource "wars" were able to see all sides of complex issues, help others find common ground and practical solutions, combine great intelligence with humility, passion with good humor. The world needs more people like you. You will be missed
Jan Pauw
June 1, 2014
I am very saddened to hear of Mark's passing. I was a professor of his at the UW; we all enjoyed Mark's passion for economics and his enthusiastic outlook on life.
Gene Silberberg
June 1, 2014
It is a wonderful tribute to a wonderful man that Mark's obituary found me giggling, laughing, sighing, and crying all at the same time. I will remember Mark mostly through his terrific irreverent sense of humor, is incredibly intellect and brainpower, and his deep love and affection for his wife, Cassie and his children, Lisa and Rob.

It was not the holiday season until the PlumLips Conglomerate holiday letter, with all of the updates on the PlumLips officers, arrived in the mail. The PlumLips live with great humor and it is our luck -- for those of us with a deep appreciation for the fun in life - that they would share their incredible wit and way with a word with their friends.

I also remember Mark's amazing culinary skills. His grilled polenta was out of this world, particularly when served with perfectly grilled steak and a fruit-based sauce that was heavenly. As to his taste in wine, well ... perfect. An evening at the PlumLips household in Federal Way was always an evening of tasty delights, delicious beverage, and most of all, a house filled with love and talent that were shared amply and generously with guests. Truly a place of beauty - not only because of the location and view - but because of the hospitality that always makes one feel so special.

I look forward to sharing more memories of Mark in the years ahead. I send nothing but love, laughs, tears, giggles, joy, sorrow, and sympathies to Cassie, Rob, and Lisa as time moves forward and during a time of healing ... may we honor Mark by sharing a bit of irreverence from time to time, drink and savor delicious PNW wine, enjoy a sunset, marvel at the sunrise over Puget Sound, and laugh and love lots and lots, and then some more. Thank you, Mark Plummer for a life so well led and for making an impact on all you touched.
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