Frank Ploetz

Aug. 20, 1920 – Jan. 8, 2013

Frank Ploetz spent the bulk of his working life as an attendant at Gowanda Psychiatric Hospital, but his true vocation was the outdoors. He died suddenly Tuesday at his daughter’s home in Tonawanda. He was 92.

Mr. Ploetz was born on his parents’ farm outside of Ellicottville. His outdoor pursuits became the source of later stories ranging from trapping skunk for their hides to sell at the height of the Great Depression to capturing his first opossum and taking it to school for show-and-tell when opossum were first starting to move into the region from the South.

He was valedictorian of his graduating class at West Valley High School in 1938.

Mr. Ploetz was a World War II-era veteran of the U.S. Army and also worked at Bell Aircraft before buying his first farm in the Otto area after the war. He worked at Gowanda Psychiatric Center from 1953 until his retirement in 1982.

Mr. Ploetz was a lifelong member of the Lutheran Church, the past three years at St. Paul’s in Eden.

He was also a lifetime member of the Cattaraugus County Trappers Association and also enjoyed gardening, fishing and hunting although pursuit of whitetail deer proved a study in frustration.

“He claimed to have gotten just seven deer in 75 years of hunting,” said his son, Elmer. “Four with a shotgun, the other three with vehicles.”

Survivors include his daughter Brenda Cross, sons William (Jane) and Elmer (Sandi); and his sister, Edith Betz. His wife of 41 years, Dorothea, died in 1988. He is also the grand-father of Janelle, Thealyn and Abigayle Ploetz; Lisa (Ray) Wawrzyniak; Teri Cross; and is survived by five great-grandchildren.

Calling hours are 4-7 p.m. Friday at Mentley Funeral Home, 105 E. Main St., Gowanda. A funeral service will be held Saturday at 11:30 a.m. in Immanuel Lutheran Church, 40 South Chapel St., Gowanda. Memorials may be made to St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Eden or Immanuel Lutheran Church in Otto. Interment at a later date.