Monday, March 13, 2017

John D. Plumley — A Life Well-Lived

John D. Plumley speaks at the ribbon-cutting ceremony for the renovated John D. Plumley Complex at MVCC's Rome Campus on February 10, 2017.
John “Jack” D. Plumley passed away suddenly on March 9, 2017. The John D. Plumley Complex on the MVCC Rome Campus is named in his honor. It is a fitting tribute to a man who served as Oneida County Executive from 1982-1991 and had the vision to support a vibrant branch campus for MVCC in Rome. In the same way the Rome Campus sits in the geographic heart of Oneida County, Jack Plumley represented the heart of this area. He was open, accessible, challenging, caring, and supportive, and made people’s lives better through his manner and way.

John Plumley at the site of construction of the Plumley Complex at MVCC's Rome Campus in 1990-91.

During my ten years at MVCC, I had the good fortune to get to know Jack through several conversations, correspondence, and a few memorable lunches. He was an incredible storyteller who had a deep knowledge about this county — when it was at its best and when it wasn’t. I learned so much from him. Jack was the kind of person who could get to the heart of a subject and cut through the fluff, often finishing interesting stories with pearls of wisdom like, “there’s always more than one side to a story — remember that,” or “not everyone’s motivations are pure, but make sure yours always are.” After every encounter or exchange I had with Jack, I always found myself motivated to be a better person, work harder, or dream bigger. I imagine his imprint was that way on most others who had the good fortune to have Jack in their sphere.

As we shared some time together at the ribbon-cutting of the John D. Plumley Complex on February 10 — nearly one month to the day prior to his passing — it was great to see the twinkle in his eyes as he took in the transformed facility that began with his vision so many years ago. And just as I thought we were all good, he said, “Every president should know that a college campus is never finished — the work goes on and you can never rest.” I imagine he shared that nugget with me because that is how he lived his life. Every leader should know that a community is never finished — the work goes on and you can never rest.

The legacy of Jack Plumley will not only remain in his incredible family and the MVCC Rome Campus, but in the hearts and minds of so many friends and acquaintances that he guided, mentored, and touched so deeply, or the millions of laughs he created throughout a life worthy of a great story.

If you have any questions or comments, you can contact me directly at presblog@mvcc.edu