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
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
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.