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Bill Plimpton's Style Worked At Every Endeavor

BY DAVE SHEA

Among positions that the late Bill Plimpton held as a teacher, coach and administrator at Ogdensburg Free Academy was seventh grade basketball coach in the late 1960s.

His players still remember how he often picked his starting lineup.

He lined the players up in groups of two, rolled the ball on the gym floor and whoever got the ball started.

Old School, Firm, Fair, Effective.

His philosophy on discipline as a Junior High School Principal was the same.

"Do you want detention or the paddle". Motivation for cooperation.

Many of Bill Plimpton's former players, students and colleagues at OFA will be remembering him today at calling hours at the Fox & Murray Funeral Home. Some of his students and players eventually became colleagues at OFA and other institutes of education and so many others were influenced and directed toward professional, athletic and family success.

One of his best examples of being fair came when Pete Gogolak, a talented young soccer player from Hungary, arrived in Ogdensburg after his family fled Russian oppression in their home country. When Gogolak lined up at angle to kick the ball "soccer style" Plimpton, who was straight on extra point kicker at St. Lawrence University, viewed the unconventional approach with an open mind.

Pete Gogolak and later his brother Charlie would go on to revolutionize place kicking in all levels of football.

Bill Plimpton's success as an educator, family man, community leader, role model and defacto Director of Buildings and Grounds at the First Presbyterian Church mirrored his achievements as a two-sports standout at St. Lawrence University, ECAC Hockey Official and member of the SLU and OFA/St. Mary's Academy Hall of Fame. He carried out his love of sports and competition throughout his life as a downhill and cross country skier, golfer, road race runner and fisherman and as a physical fitness advocate who dazzled fellow gym members with the ferocity of his workouts.

Tributes have flowed for Bill Plimpton as word of his unexpected death circulated. But the most appropriate came from former students (even some who got the paddle) and players who said simply "Mr. Plimpton was fair and a nice man."

The achievements of his life are chronicled below in his obituary from the website of the Fox & Funeral Home.

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BILL PLIMPTON OBITUARY

Calling hours for William H. Plimpton III, age 87 of Ogdensburg, will be held on Thursday (November 12, 2020) from 12:00 - 2:00pm & 4:00 - 6:00pm at the Fox & Murray Funeral Home. Mr. Plimpton passed away on Sunday (November 8, 2020) at Claxton Hepburn Medical Center surrounded by his loving family. A private memorial service will be held at a date to be determined at the First Presbyterian Church in Ogdensburg with Rev. Laurena Will officiating.

Surviving is his wife Sandra; two sons and their wives Mark & Michelle Plimpton of East Amherst, NY (a suburb of Buffalo) and Thomas & Tracy Plimpton of Peru, NY; grandchildren Chelsea, Kyle, Teagan and Gavin Plimpton.

Bill was born on April 6, 1933 in Theresa NY, a son of the late William & Eleanor (Dobbins) Plimpton. He graduated from Alexandria Bay High School and continued his education at St. Lawrence University where he obtained a Master’s Degree in education. He was a member of both the St. Lawrence University Football and Hockey teams. Bill later married his wife of 61 years, Sandra Steinkuller, on June 27, 1959 in Kingston, NY. Bill began his career at Ogdensburg Free Academy as a World History teacher and Football Coach. He is credited with coaching Pete Gogolak, who went on to become the first “soccer style” kicker in the NFL with the New York Giants. In 1962 Bill accepted a new position at Elmira Free Academy and served as the EFA Football Coach, along with teaching World History, before returning to Ogdensburg in 1966 in what he described as the “best move of his life.” Bill took on the role of Junior High Principal at Ogdensburg Free Academy, which maintained until his retirement in 1988. Bill didn’t stop working, however, and remained in education, as the registrar of Mater Dei College in Ogdensburg. He officially retired on a full-time basis in 2000 to spend more time with his family.

Bill was a former member of the Claxton Hepburn Medical Center Hospital board, an active member of the Ogdensburg First Presbyterian Church where he was on session and the board of trustees. He was a former City Councilman, as a member of the “City Coalition,” along with Dick Lockwood, Ned Hackett, and Dick Dupont. He was an avid outdoorsman, and enjoyed playing golf, woodworking, spending time on his island, gardening, fishing, boating, attending his grandchildren’s sporting events and was a respected coach and mentor to many, many students.

Bill continues to influence young people today thanks to one of his former students, the late Steve Munn and his daughters Michelle and Robyn, who set up and maintain the William Plimpton Scholarship Fund. Every 4 years, this scholarship is awarded to a student who leads by example and has demonstrates excellence and involvement in many areas, including school organizations, such as government, athletics, and cultural venues. Students are awarded a scholarship of $15,000 per year for a four-year period for a total scholarship of $60,000.

Bill was named to the St. Lawrence University Athletics Hall of Fame in 2011 and was inducted into the inaugural class of the Ogdensburg Free Academy/St. Mary’s Academy Sports Hall of Fame in 2018.

Memorial contributions can be made to First Presbyterian Church, 423 Ford Street, Ogdensburg, NY 13669. Condolences and fond memories can also be shared online at www.foxandmurrayfuneralhome.com.


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This site is dedicated to the memory of Chuck Kelly, longtime editor of The Journal and Advance News in Ogdensburg and the greatest newsman in the history of Northern New York.