2012 Outstanding Senior Citizens named

Jeanette Ploof and Jack Peck move to state level competition

By Tina SnellStaff Writer

Jeanette Ploof and Jack Peck were both named the Morrison County 2012 Outstanding Senior Citizens at the Morrison County Fair. From there, they will enter the State Outstanding Senior Citizen Award competition and be recognized for their service at a ceremony during the State Fairgrounds on Senior Day, Aug. 30.

Jack Peck, left, and Jeanette Ploof were named the 2012 Outstanding Seniors in Morrison County. They will compete at the state level during the Minnesota State Fair.

It seems as if Ploof has no time to sleep. For five hours every week, she visits patients at St. Gabriel’s Hospital in Little Falls, documents how they are being treated and helps them however she can. She also is the secretary of the Hospital Auxiliary and volunteers in the gift shop.

For three hours monthly, on an irregular schedule,

Ploof delivers meals to community residents who are housebound for Meals on Wheels.

During meetings of Mothers of Preschoolers at the Little Falls Alliance Church, Ploof volunteers to rock the babies in the nursery. She is scheduled to be there every two-three weeks or about eight hours a month.

At Our Lady of Lourdes Church in Little Falls, Ploof helps serve funeral lunches, assists with running the craft booth at the annual bazaar, works at the yearly garage sale, is a volunteer caller, quilts, sews baptismal vestments, delivers communion to shut-ins and is the Catholic Aid secretary. This takes up approximately four hours of her week. She also delivers communion to people at Highland Senior Living on Sundays.

At the Little Falls Senior Center, Ploof gets up very early Thursday mornings (she would rather sleep in) and helps make doughnuts. She volunteers there about eight hours a month.

Ploof helps set tables and serve meals to the day care adults at St. Otto’s Care Center. She then stays to help clean up. She is there about four hours each week.

At the Lutheran Care Center, she assists with weekly pastoral care. For a little more than an hour each Friday, Ploof gives communion and leads the Rosary to both those who gather and those who are unable to leave their rooms.

Ploof is also a member of Christian Mothers, a past parish council member and a past religious education teacher. In the past, she has volunteered with the Oasis Central Minnesota Paint A Thon.

She was nominated by Phyllis Reznicek, a friend and past neighbor. Reznicek wrote about Ploof, “Jeanette gives of herself, never looking for any rewards. She supports the local school activities. She has raised her children to be very generous, giving people as well. Jeanette has a very ‘upbeat’ attitude. I don’t recall seeing her without a smile and a hug. I feel very blessed having her for a friend.”

Jeanette Brixius was born in Buckman and married Don Ploof who worked at the Hennepin Paper Mill in Little Falls. She worked for Bell Telephone for 26 years in both Little Falls and St. Cloud, retiring in 1983.

Ploof said about the Flensburg farm she and her husband ran for 25 years, “It was a great place to raise children.”

Don retired in 1990, and became ill the same year.

Ploof was his primary caregiver until about three years before he passed away in 2004.

The two raised six children, Doug, Jean Grams, Galen, Tom, Peter and Beth Cordes. Ploof has 18 grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

In her spare time, Ploof loves to read, visit her family, do yard work and garden. She also loves to travel, bowl and go dancing.

For those who are thinking about volunteering,

Ploof suggested starting with a hospital, nursing home or assisted living. She said they always need volunteers. Also ask about volunteering possibilities with local churches.

“I love how volunteering makes others feel,” she said. “They are so thankful to have someone do things for them. I enjoy making others happy and love giving hugs.”

Peck, a retired radio announcer with KLTF in Little Falls, came to Little Falls in 1959, after graduating from the University of Minnesota with a degree in communications. He worked at KLTF for 31 years.

“I always wanted to be a broadcaster,” said Peck. “Plus, it brought me to Little Falls.”

After his retirement, Peck volunteered on the St. Gabriel’s Hospital Board for six years, helping with public awareness, decision making and fundraising for the hospital’s building campaign project.

Peck is now the president of the Minnesota Veterans Cemetery Association and is the chairperson of the current $500,000 art project in Committal Hall. He also assists in the planning of the annual Memorial Day programs.

At Bethel Lutheran Church in Little Falls, he has ushered for 50 years, has volunteered as purser for 10 years, worked with the sound system and been on the sound board for eight years. He is the current lector, reading the first and second lessons on Sundays and arranges the schedule for other lectors. Peck also served for 16 years on the church council and had one term as president.

Peck has been a member of the Little Falls Area Chamber of Commerce for more than 50 years and served as president from 1981-82. He assisted with the newsletter, the annual reports and helped grow Little Falls with the beautification of Maple Island Park, Pine Grove Park and Pine Grove Zoo.

Through his job as radio announcer with KLTF in Little Falls, he helped promote high school activities and sports. As a community service, he broadcast thousands of hours of games. He continued to announce boys and girls basketball games, along with football games, after he retired.

Peck has volunteered with Habitat for Humanity in public relations, is a member of the Little Falls Lions and a 59-year member of the American Legion Post 46 where he helps with fundraising and serves as a master of ceremonies for annual Memorial Day celebrations.

The Little Falls Jaycees, Little Falls Softball Association, Little Falls Baseball Club and Little Falls Parks and Recreation Board all have benefited from Peck’s volunteering.

Peck was awarded the Minnesota Athletic Director’s Distinguished Service Award in 2007, and was also given the Lifetime Jaycee Senator Award.

“One of my most favorite volunteer jobs has been as a greeter/guest relations person at St. Gabriel’s Hospital,” said Peck. “I made sure patients’ families were aware they were in the hospital, answered non-medical questions and helped with any issues or concerns that I could. I really enjoyed speaking with each person I came in contact with.”

Peck said it was funny, but he had a connection with just about everyone he met in the hospital. It was either because they knew his voice from the radio or he knew their children who had played in sports.

Linda Johnson, LeeAnn Doucette, Don Sorensen and Deb Boelz wrote letters to nominate Peck for the honor of being named the Outstanding Senior in Morrison County. One letter said Peck was one of those outstanding community members who has been active since the day he arrived in Little Falls.

“Being part of the community has been his mission via his employment, church attendance, military allegiance and active volunteer involvement with so many varied needs of our community. Morrison County has greatly benefitted from Jack’s talents and skills,” the letter said.

Peck said he feels he owes the community of Little Falls, that the town has been very good to him and it’s a little thing to give back.

“I get more out of volunteering than the work which is involved,” he said.

Peck and his wife Betty spend much of their free time attending the many activities of their  18 grandchildren. The two have six children: Mike, Tom, Jonmarie Wagner, Lisa Rebrovich, Julie Schulz and Steve.

For those who wish to start volunteering, Peck recommended joining a service club that helps the community. He said people need to get involved.

Plus, Peck said he has met so many active, wonderful, similar-thinking people while he volunteers. He has made many new friends.

“I love Little Falls and my best decisions were to move here and then stay after I retired,” he said.

Other nominees for the distinction of being Morrison County’s Outstanding Seniors were Helen Ross of Pierz, Delores “Dee” Knopik of Little Falls and June Brutscher of Little Falls.