Story by Randy Sarvis
WILMINGTON, Ohio - Wilmington College athletics lost one of its own with the passing of emeritus professor Dr. John "Fritz" Plinke Dec. 23 in Lexington, Kentucky.
Plinke, 90, served as men's basketball coach from the 1981-82 season through 1989-90, in addition to serving as a health and physical education faculty member and department chair from 1977 through his retirement in 1993.
Dr. Terry Rupert, vice president for athletic administration and director of athletics, fondly remembered Plinke as one who remained close to WC athletics for many years after his retirement.
"When I came to Wilmington College in the mid-1990s and Fritz and Barb still lived in the area, he was a pillar of support for our athletics program, working at the scorer's table at basketball games and as a fan of all Quaker sports," Rupert said. "He was an especially valuable resource to me as a wealth of knowledge about WC athletics."
"I have a great memory from Fritz's acceptance speech when we inducted him into our Athletic Hall of Fame," Rupert added. "He spoke of the love he had for all his players and for Wilmington College. In more recent years after they moved to Lexington, Fritz continued his support and keen interest in our program."
A native of Lancaster, Plinke attended Bowling Green State University, where he played basketball on teams that had multiple National Invitational Tournament appearances, including a third place finish in 1949.
Following a stint in the U.S. Army, he returned to BGSU and graduated in 1950, later earning a Master of Education degree from Kent State University and his doctorate from Indiana University.
Plinke taught and coached at the University of Wisconsin—Whitewater and returned to Ohio in 1971 to serve Capital University as a professor, department chair and athletics director. He came to Wilmington College in 1977 as both faculty member and department chair, in addition to later coaching men's basketball and men and women's tennis. He is a 2000 inductee into the College's Athletic Hall of Fame.
Survivors include Barbara, his wife of 65 years, four children, a sister and brother, 12 grandchildren and one great-grandchild. A memorial service will be scheduled in early 2018 and his family suggests that, in lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to Wilmington College.