The Obit For Walter Plant

Walter Plant

Published in StamfordAdvocate on June 28, 2012

WALTER PLANT, Retired Stamford School Teacher, Decorated WWII Combat Veteran.

Walter J. Plant, a retired Stamford science teacher who was celebrated by his students for his passion, humor, and his occasional handstands on the lab tables, died at his home in Stamford on Tuesday. He was 91. Born in Chicago in 1921, son of a door-to-door vacuum cleaner salesman, he was the eldest of six children.

Always a superb athlete, Mr. Plant was a semi-professional baseball standout in Chicago in the late 1930's when he was noticed by a scout and signed to a minor league contact with the St. Louis Cardinals organization. Graceful and sure-handed at second base and shortstop, and fast on the base paths, he chased his big league dream through the colorful rigors of the minor leagues at the time, playing through injuries and travelling on team busses from small town to small town through the rural South and upper Midwest. "In those days, if you weren't willing to play hurt, they'd send you home." he said.

But he never realized his baseball ambitions. Ten months after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor and the U.S entry into World War II, Mr. Plant enlisted in the U.S. Army. He rose quickly through the enlisted ranks to lead a heavy weapons platoon as part of the 96th Infantry Division in the Pacific Theatre. He was wounded in late 1944 during the American assault on Leyte Island in the southern Philippines, returning to action for the U.S. assault on the Island of Okinawa, where he was awarded the Bronze Star for valor in an engagement in which he was wounded for a second time.

Unable to continue playing professional baseball due to his battle injuries, Mr. Plant began his long career as a teacher in the early 1950's. He taught physical education at tough inner city schools in Chicago for several years, before relocating to Stamford in 1955, where he became a biology teacher at Dolan Junior High School. He moved to Rippowam High School when that facility opened in 1961. He retired from Rippowam as head of the Science Department in 1981.

Mr. Plant was married for more than 65 years to the former Mary Lombardi, a Stamford native who survives him. He is also survived by two sons, Michael and Stephen; two daughters, Maryellen Baker and Dr.Anne Plant, PhD; and seven grandchildren.

The family will receive friends at the Edward Lawrence Funeral Home, 2119 Post Road, Darien, CT on Sunday, July 1, 2012 from 3:00 to 6:00 PM. A Mass of Christian Burial will be held at St. John R.C. Church, 1986 Post Road, Darien on Monday, July 2, 2012 at 10:00 AM.

Interment with full military honors will take place at Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, VA.

In lieu of flowers, contributions can be made to Vitas Hospice Charitable Fund, Hawley Lane Suite 1204, Stratford, CT 06614 or to the Crohn's and Colitis Foundation of America at www.ccfa.org.