1947 - 2018
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Age 70, of Welch, Minnesota A Distinguished Forensic Pathologist Dr. John Plunkett passed away April, 4, 2018, in Welch MN surrounded by loving family and friends. We meet many people in our lives, many of whom are exceptional, but even among those few, John was extraordinary. He was kind, generous and loving, and a gift to all who knew him. John was born April 15, 1947 in St. Paul. He graduated from St. Thomas Academy in St. Paul in 1965 and the University of Minnesota in 1969. He married the former Donna McFarren from Dalton, Ohio in 1970. John received a medical degree from the University of Minnesota in 1972. He worked as a pathologist and laboratory director at Regina Memorial Hospital for 26 years and headed a coroner's office serving seven Minnesota counties. In the later years of his forensic pathology career, he investigated "shaken baby syndrome," a medical hypothesis that incorrectly attributes many cases of sudden pediatric death to unseen abuse by a parent or caregiver. In recent years, over 300 convictions, many for murder, have been overturned due to the determined work of John and his colleagues. John continued this work on behalf of the unjustly convicted until recently. For his leadership in this area, he received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Innocence Network in 2016. The work of John and others was featured in "The Syndrome," an award-winning documentary released in 2014. John was preceded in death by his father Jerry Plunkett, mother Margaret Marzolf Plunkett, and stepmother Patricia Bonner Plunkett. He is survived by wife of over 47 years Donna McFarren Plunkett, sons Matt (Jen), and Ben; two grandchildren Fiona and Cailin; siblings Patrick (Anita), Marnie Olson (John), Tim (Lucy), Paul (Susan), Michael (Dawn), Ann, and Peggy; brothers-in-law Neil (Diane), and Russ (Tish); and many nieces and nephews. Memorial Service 11 a.m. Saturday, April 14, at St. Joseph's Catholic Church of Miesville, 23955 Nicolai Ave., Hastings, MN. Visitation 4 to 8 p.m. Friday, April 13, at Caturia, Smidt & Starkson Funeral Home & Crematory, 201 E. 7 St., Hastings, as well as an hour and a half prior to memorial service at church on Saturday. Memorials preferred to Albert Sullivan Endowed Scholarship II Fund for the University of Minnesota Medical School or to Wisconsin Innocence Project/SBS Fund.

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Published in Pioneer Press on Apr. 8, 2018.
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9 entries
April 20, 2018
Kind, honest and a nice guy are just a few words that describe Dr. Plunkett. Dr. Plunkett will always be remembered in our family and in our heart for his efforts on behalf of our son. He was a beacon of truth!
JoAnn Wohlers
April 13, 2018
John was a classmate throughout high school and a great guy who went on to have a great life that helped a lot of people. Glad I got to see him again before he died. Sorry I can't make the visitation tonight or the service tomorrow. My condolences to his family.
April 13, 2018
Eternal Blessings Bouquet
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robert bigelow
April 11, 2018
God Bless John and may he rest in peace, love and joy. Since our fathers were first cousins, I think
we are second cousins in the Plunkett clan. When I saw him at a family gathering, John was full of information on family history and I will miss his insights, his kindness and his good sense of humor.

Pam Kyzer
April 11, 2018
The FTD Peaceful Passage Arrangement
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Pamela Kyzer
April 10, 2018
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Myrna Stephens
April 9, 2018
Jack Palmer
April 8, 2018
Attended Immaculate Heart of Mary grade school with Johnsorry to learn of his passingR.I.P. John !
Mike Simmer
April 8, 2018
Whispering hope and prayers, tons of respect and mutual sadness. Love to the survivors.
Mandria Clybor
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