William E. (Bill) Pluma, age 81, passed away at home on Tuesday, December 21, 2021, in Paso Robles, CA. He was born in Los Angeles, CA, on January 9, 1940, to William and Martha Pluma.
Bill spent most of his childhood in Norwalk, CA, and graduated in 1958 from Excelsior High School (where the movie Grease II was filmed). At age 16, Bill became a primary provider for his family due to his father becoming disabled in a work accident. He started out in a small butcher shop owned by his mentor, Benny Kaplan, where he learned the value of hard work and saving money. Bill went on to become a professional meat cutter and department manager and worked for several southern California grocery stores. On his days off, he sold real estate.
In 1963 Bill was drafted into the Army and served in Fort Knox, Kentucky, until 1965. Upon returning to California, he settled with his wife and two daughters in Ventura. Later he had an opportunity to purchase Jug Liquor in Morro Bay, so they moved to Atascadero. While running this business, he continued managing meat departments and selling real estate. After his marriage ended, Bill moved to San Luis Obispo. Some years later, he met Janice in Pismo Beach. They married on Diamond Head Beach in Oahu, Hawaii, in 1989. Not long after they were married, they moved to Paso Robles and bought their forever home.
Bill had an insatiable appetite for travel. He has been to all 50 states, some more than once. He and Janice took numerous wonderful vacations and visited Mexico, Canada, Europe, the South Pacific, the Caribbean, and Central America. He never stopped talking about the next place he wanted to see. But Bill’s true heart and passion was his own community.
His volunteerism began upon his retirement in 1992. He threw himself into the “job” of helping others, giving 1500 to 2000 hours a year of his time, tireless in his drive to give back. From 2001 to 2021, he has been honored with countless awards, some from notable leaders like President George W. Bush and Lt. Governor Abel Maldonado, along with senators, members of congress and assembly, and the board of supervisors. Most recently, he was named Senior of the Year for 2021. His first volunteer position was with Paso Robles Police Dept., beginning as a courier and later serving as a hearing and mediation officer. He went on to serve on the Senior Advisory Board, the Food Bank Coalition, Salvation Army, Paso Robles City Library, Performing Arts Center in SLO, friends of the Mid-State Fair, Estrella Warbirds Museum, Pioneer Museum, Main Street, and numerous other organizations. In addition, he was a member of the Paso Optimist Club, Elks Club, and Marine Corps League.
Bill always felt his crowning achievement was his work helping youth. As a member of the Optimist Club, he mentored the Junior Optimist Club at Paso High, headed the scholarship committee, and facilitated essay and oratorical contests. He also organized an Optimist third-grade spelling bee held each fall during Main Street’s Honey and Pumpkin Festival. His most special love was The Toy Bank of Greater Paso Robles. He was president of Toy Bank for 17 of the 25 years he was on the board of directors. For the past eight years, he was fundraising chairman for this group that brings so much joy to underserved children at Christmas. One of Bill’s strongest assets was his ability to encourage others to support a cause. Because of his networking skills, organizations frequently asked him to help with fundraisers or special projects, even though he was not formally a member of their groups.
Bill endured many heartbreaks during his life. He was preceded in death by his parents, an infant sister, a younger brother, a brother-in-law, and two young nieces. The most painful of all was the loss of his youngest daughter and stepdaughter, who perished together in an accident. His fierce love for his family helped carry him through, and he was grateful for those he had left. He also found solace in scripture and had attended both Plymouth Congregational Church and Paso Robles Community Church.
Bill is survived by his wife of 32 years, Janice Pluma, his oldest daughter, his son-in-law, three beautiful grandchildren, his younger sister and brother, five sisters-in-law, four brothers-in-law, an aunt, and many nieces, nephews, cousins, and of course, friends.
There will be a celebration of Bill’s life on March 12 from 1 to 5 PM in Hanger 1 at Estrella Warbirds Museum in Paso Robles. In lieu of flowers, donations to the following would be appreciated: Toy Bank of Greater Paso Robles, Paso Senior Center, Paso Pioneer Museum, Estrella Warbirds Museum/Woodland Auto Display, or a charity of your choice. The family will place Bill’s ashes to rest privately at Paso Robles District Cemetery.