Gwendolyn G. Plunkett
1935 - 2020
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 or at

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.
No memorial events are currently scheduled.
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7 Entries
wen was a great spark of joy in our Osher German language group. I just recently re-joined this group and just learned of her passing. I offer my deep condolences to the family. Her memory is a treasure.
Darlene Wesenberg Rzezotarski
March 9, 2021
I met Gwen and Jim through my mother, Claire Michelstetter. We got together in Santa Fe and when they were visiting in the Bay Area. Gwen was an inspiring, intelligent woman. The world is poorer without her. Condolences to her family.
Susan Kritzik
August 1, 2020
Dick Kroner
July 30, 2020
Gwen was a remarkable person. I feel fortunate to get to know her in the past year or 2. I loved her adventuresome life, her interest in science which we shared in attending functions at the Public Museum. A very interesting and generous person whom I miss. Carol Carpenter
Carol Carpenter
July 28, 2020
Sarah Chance
July 27, 2020
I am so happy to have met Gwen - alas, only a few years ago. I heard stories of her fascinating life, her current interests, her generosity, and her love of children and grandchildren. A sweet and kind soul has passed from this earth. I grieve Gwen's departure.
Carl Drews
July 26, 2020
Mrs. Plunkett raised a wonderful family❤. I have many happy memories of time with your family since high school! Sending much love, comfort, and peace❤.
Dawn & Paul Marceau
July 25, 2020
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