Gwendolyn G. Plunkett
(March 27, 1935 - July 22, 2020) passed away peacefully at home, surrounded by family. It is with great sadness that we say goodbye to a remarkable human being. Gwen will certainly be missed as a pillar of the Milwaukee community. She was a champion for nature and the preservation of natural habitat, was a strong supporter of the visual and performing arts, and a tireless advocate for women's empowerment and higher education. Born and raised in Ilion, New York, Gwen graduated as valedictorian of her high school class. She received top honors from the state of New York for pioneering research in chromatography at the young age of 17, awarding her a full scholarship to any university of her choice. In 1956, she graduated with a degree in biochemistry from Vassar College, and began working at the medical college in Syracuse, before marrying her husband, Jim, and moving to Milwaukee. She served as Trustee for the Village of River Hills, on the Advisory Board for the Wisconsin Electric Company, on the HER Scholarship Committee of the Women's Fund for Greater Milwaukee, and as a board member for many organizations, including Family Service of Milwaukee, the North Shore Public Library, College Endowment, Present Music, the Milwaukee Public Museum, the board of directors for the UWM Friends of Golda Meir Library, and the Medical College of Wisconsin Board for Women's Science. She also served two terms as a school board member for the Maple Dale/Indian Hill School district, and was a long time member of the Milwaukee Woman's Club.
A force of nature with an adventurous spirit, keen mind, and unstoppable energy, Gwen will be remembered as one who loved her family, her many hobbies and interests, and the outdoors. She had an intense passion for tennis, bicycling, kayaking, traveling, bird watching, and learning foreign languages, as well as climbing to the tops of mountains. Always curious, she loved to watch the night sky and observe comets and eclipses. She was rarely seen without a book or crossword puzzle in her hands.
She will be missed by her entire family, many friends, and fellow adventurers. She is survived by her brothers Malcom (Martha) Gienke, of Hartford, Wisconsin, and Martin (Gillian) Gienke, of Cambridge, England, her four children, Karen Plunkett, Robert (Karen) Plunkett, Katherine Plunkett Davis (Jack), and Laura Plunkett, and ten grandchildren. She is preceded in death by her parents Erwin and Elizabeth (Woodman) Gienke, and her loving husband Jim Plunkett.
In lieu of flowers, Gwen would have very much appreciated a gift to the Milwaukee Repertory Theater or the Women's Fund for Greater Milwaukee. Donations in memoriam can be made online at Milwaukee rep.com/give/donate
or at womensfundmke.org
For details and photos, refer to "In memory of Gwen Plunkett" on Facebook.
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Published by Milwaukee Journal Sentinel from Jul. 24 to Jul. 26, 2020.