David S. Plumb of St. Louis, Mo., and Chappaquiddick, died peacefully in his sleep at his St. Louis home on May 11, a fitting end to a long and eventful life well lived. He was 94.
Born in Mount Vernon, N.Y. in 1918, Mr. Plumb was the son of Louis J. Plumb and Anna Scott Plumb. He was the youngest graduate of Bronxville High School to attend Princeton University, entering at age 16 and graduating Phi Beta Kappa and suma cum laude in 1938. By age 21, he had completed his master’s degree in chemical engineering, quickly joining what was then known as Monsanto Chemical Company in its burgeoning plastics division in Springfield. He was assigned, among other things, to assist in the war effort in developing SAFLEX, the thin film of plastic that now exists between two plates of glass in every car windshield. He also assisted in the development of melamine, from which the first plastic plates and dishes were made.
In 1961, he was transferred to Monsanto’s St. Louis home office. In the following years he assisted in the establishment of joint venture plastic manufacturing facilities in Japan, Italy, France and Mexico, among others, all of which inspired in him a zest for travel and adventure abroad. Following his retirement, Mr. Plumb remained active on a variety of nonprofit boards in the St. Louis area, delving into, among other things, the intricacies of early childhood education and daycare centers. For many years he took special pleasure serving on the board and executive committee of the Lighthouse for the Blind.
In 1941, he met and married Faith Conant, of Boston. During their honeymoon on Martha’s Vineyard, they roamed the then little-known island of Chappaquiddick and fell in love with it. Within seven years, they had built a home there, which has remained a focal point for the entire family ever since. He was one of the founders and became the fifth president of the Chappaquiddick Island Association. The tennis court which he and Faith built in the early years became point central for the annual island tennis tournament up until very recently.
Together they had three children: a son, attorney Peter S. Plumb of Portland, Me., and his wife Pamela, and two daughters, Dr. Nancy P. Knapp of Farmington, Me., and her husband Burton, and the Rev. Cynthia P. Hubbard of Plymouth and her husband, Theodore. In due time there were seven grandchildren, and at his death he proudly could claim knowing and loving all 12 of his great-grandchildren.
His beloved Faith died of leukemia in 1995. She had been recently honored as a St. Louis Woman of Distinction. Through the years that followed he maintained many close friendships, most important of which was the companionship and affection of Ann Maritz of St. Louis. Their special relationship was a source of great joy to him and to his family. David Plumb was a voracious reader with an enormous curiosity about just about everything that went on in the world. He subscribed and regularly read over a dozen magazines, ranging from the Economist to Archaeology to the Chemical Engineer. Even with poor eyesight in the last two years of his life, he continued to consume numerous biographies and historical writings. A music and opera lover, he was listening to the Metropolitan Opera Saturday broadcast immediately prior to his death.
A memorial service and reception for his St. Louis friends and family is being planned for June 11 at the Bellerive County Club. A second memorial service will be held Saturday, August 31 at 4:30 p.m. at St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church in Edgartown, followed by a martini and chocolate reception, with other suitable cocktail fare, at the Plumb house on Chappaquiddick.
Contributions in his memory may be made either to The Trustees of Reservations (Chappaquiddick f/b/o My Toi Garden) TTOR, attention Chris Kennedy, P.O. Box 2106, 860 State Road, Vineyard Haven, MA, 02568 or to the Lighthouse for the Blind, 10440 Trenton avenue, St. Louis, MO 63132.