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In Memoriam: Jim Plumtree, 77

Jul 29, 2013, by Mike McNulty, in General News Alumni News

Jim Plumtree

Jim Plumtree MA ’78, member of the Board of Councilors of the USC Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy, died July 1, 2013 at his home in Garden City, Idaho. His wife, Pat, their family members and friends were at his side.

James S. Plumtree was born Nov. 8, 1935 in South San Francisco to Sani and Leona Farrell Plumtree. After high school he enrolled at San Francisco State College, and in 1955 he enlisted in the U.S. Navy, becoming a Navy Occupational Therapy Technician. After being honorably discharged, he returned to study at San Francisco State and also held several positions in the banking and retail industries. In 1968 he married Patricia Volland in Reno, Nev., and subsequently moved to Reno to complete his undergraduate studies at the University of Nevada.

Plumtree continued his career as an Occupational Therapy Technician at the Nevada Mental Health Institute in Sparks, Nev., now known as Northern Nevada Adult Mental Health Services. He earned his Master of Arts degree in Occupational Therapy from the University of Southern California in 1978 with his thesis entitled “An Exploratory Study of Crafts in Occupational Therapy.”

He was hired as Assistant Chief of Occupational Therapy at Saint Francis Hospital in Lynwood, Calif., and in 1979 became Director of Occupational Therapy at Idaho Elks Rehabilitation Hospital in Boise, Idaho. He was soon elected President of the Idaho Occupational Therapy Association and also served on the American Occupational Therapy Association’s Council of State Association Presidents. In 1984 he was appointed to the Board of Directors of the American Occupational Therapy Foundation and in 1987 was elected the foundation’s Secretary, serving in that position until 1996. In 1996 the foundation named him its Distinguished Citizen of the Year.

In 1989, Plumtree was hired as the Director of Occupational Therapy at Saint Joseph’s Regional Medical Center in South Bend, Ind. In 2002 he and his wife, Pat, were appointed to the Board of Councilors of the USC Department of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy and he remained an active member through 2013.

“Jim Plumtree epitomized the essence of occupational therapy — always exuding optimism, positivity and love of our profession,” said Florence Clark, Associate Dean of the USC Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy.

“In his presence,” continued Clark, “his colleagues, friends and patients were always motivated to be the best that they could be — not only in terms of stretching one’s capacities and productivity, but especially in ethics and caring. He touched us all profoundly, and his spirit will remain deep within our hearts as we strive to do good work in these complicated times.”

Together, Jim and Pat enjoyed many wonderful times with friends, no matter where they lived. Travel, music, theater and gardening were especially favorite pastimes. His love for, and service to, the profession of occupational therapy and the University of Southern California will be fondly remembered.

In lieu of flowers, the family kindly requests a gift to the Plumtree “Art for Rehab Project” c/o Saint Alphonsus Foundation, 1055 N. Curtis Road, Boise, ID 83706.