Brooklyn Milestones & Memorials: Charles, 95, and Lucille, 90: Beloved Plotz couple traveled world for medicine, botany, civil rights
For many decades in Brooklyn, first in Park Slope, then Brooklyn Heights, the well-traveled Charles and Lucille Plotz were cherished as leaders in civic, cultural and medical circles.
Last fall on Nov. 20 Charles died peacefully at home in Columbia Heights, surrounded by family. He was 95. Lucille, 90, died on March 13, also at home in Brooklyn Heights.
Charles Mindell Plotz, born a doctor’s son, was a brilliant student who graduated from Columbia College at 19. After medical school and internship at Yale New Haven Hospital, he married Lucille, with whom he would share 71 years of marriage.
After serving as captain in the Army Medical Corps, he entered the new field of rheumatology, becoming he first rheumatology fellow at Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center. He participated in much of the seminal research in the field and in the 1950s, together with Dr. Jacques Singer, developed the “Latex Fixation Test,” which quickly became, and has remained, the standard test for rheumatoid arthritis.
Dr. Plotz’s academic achievements made him much sought-after participant in conferences around the world, which led to extensive international travel and friendships for him and Lucille.
Throughout their active lives in Brooklyn, friends would often recall having “run into Charles and Lucille sitting at an outdoor café or a museum somewhere abroad … and they always proudly carried something labeled ‘Brooklyn’ — a Botanic Gardens tote bag, a BAM umbrella, a Prospect Park Alliance sweatshirt …”
In 1965 Charles was invited to spend a month leading the American medical outreach effort in Kabul, Afghanistan, where he gained first-hand insights into that then-peaceful part of the world.
That same year, as part of his lifelong effort to improve the lives of others, Charles took the older two of his three sons to join civil rights march with Dr. Martin Luther King to Montgomery, Alabama.
In addition to a seemingly endless supply of jokes and anecdotes, Plotz was a prized dinner companion and connoisseur of good wines. On the tennis court in Brooklyn or at Martha’s Vineyard, where he and Lucille spent much of their vacation time with family, he was known for his wicked drop shot and backspin serve.
A Spritely, Crusading Botanist
A lifelong, proud Brooklynite, Lucille Weckstein Plotz was an alumna of James Madison High School and Barnard College.
With a degree in botany, Lucille was for 50 years a prize-winning gardener at Martha’s Vineyard. In Brooklyn, gravitating to the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, she served as president of the garden’s auxiliary and served on the BBG board of trustees for many years. She built the annual spring plant sale into a major fundraising event, serving as its chair and/or co-chair for 60 years. In 1977, she was awarded the garden’s Distinguished Service Medal.
Lucille was predeceased by her husband Charles and her brother Richard Weckstein. She is survived by her sons Dick (Judy), Tom (Cathy Klion) and Bob (Sue), grandchildren Martha (Kyle) Ingols and Mike Plotz, David and Joanna Plotz, and Ben, John and Mike Plotz and great-granddaughter Rose Ingols.
Charles and Lucille will rest together at Abel’s Hill Cemetery at Martha’s Vine-yard. A memorial gathering is being planned by the family in Brooklyn later in the spring. Contributions in honor of Charles, Lucille or both should be made to the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, 1000 Washington Ave.
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