Gordon Rick Plowe was born Christmas night, December 25, 1930 at Batavia, NY. He grew up on the Rick/Plowe family farm in Genesee County with his parents, Alma Rick and Carl Plowe, his brother, Ayden and his Rick and Plowe grandparents nearby. He attended South Byron High School and graduated in 1948 as the Valedictorian. He graduated “With Distinction” from the Cornell University College of Agriculture in 1952. There he was active in intramural sports and student government and was Chancellor of Alpha Zeta Fraternity.
Then, he and his dad entered into full partnership on the family farm which was a diversified dairy, livestock, vegetable crops, wheat and dry beans operation. Next he worked with Long Island Produce and Fertilizer Co. of Riverhead NY as Assistant to the Head of the Fertilizer Division.
In the summer of 1956, he began working full time with the Episcopal Church. He undertook a study of the Episcopal Church-owned lands on the Indian reservations in South Dakota, Nebraska, Wyoming and Idaho. He was then invited to work on the staff of the Home Department at the National Council of the Episcopal Church in New York City. There he administered the National Scholarship Program for Native American college students.
Gordon and Virginia Southard Ott were married in Portland, OR in 1957. They raised a family of six children, now located as follows: Katharine (Mike) Boyce, Little Rock, AR; Christopher (Myaing Nyunt) Plowe, Pasadena, MD and tropical Africa and Asia; Sarah (Paul) Erickson, Rapid City, SD, Elizabeth (Michael) Ross, Nashville, TN; Jonathan (Dana Stangel) Plowe, West Nyack, NY; Mary (Adrian) Williams, Burlington, VT. They have twelve grandchildren and three great-granddaughters.
Gordon was Administrative Assistant to Bishop Conrad Gesner in the Episcopal Diocese of SD for three and one-half years. Then he studied for three years at the Church Divinity School of the Pacific, Berkeley, CA. In 1965 he returned to South Dakota as a Mission Field Priest at St. Katharine’s Episcopal Church, Martin, SD and on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. During those and subsequent years he was instrumental in the development of the camping program at Thunderhead Episcopal Camp.
In 1971 he went on a sabbatical leave and moved with his family to New York State. He did special studies at Colgate Rochester/Bexley Hall/Crozier Divinity Schools, Rochester, NY. During this time he applied for a Peace Corps assignment and was in the process of being accepted when the Peace Corps reduced the number of dependents allowed. He and his family ended up on a large vegetable farm in western New York. There he worked with Robert and Richard Call, two fraternity brothers from Cornell days, on the staff of My-T Acres, Inc. The first year there he led a crew of men in harvesting over 1,000 tons of cabbage for sauerkraut.
After two years at My-T Acres came the move to Mitchell, SD where Father Plowe was called to be the Rector of St. Mary’s Episcopal Church. The years there included a special trip to St. George’s College, Jerusalem and a tour of the Holy Land. Next was a move to Minot, ND where he was Rector of All Saints Church and Vicar of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church on the Fort Berthold Indian Reservation for six years. In 1988 he moved back to New York State to be on the staff of the Tri-County Cluster where he was Vicar of St. Matthew’s Church, Moravia and Calvary Episcopal Church, Homer. Late in 1990 he retired from the ordained ministry and returned to his agricultural roots.
Gordon became an orchardist for My-T Acres and managed a staff of about twenty-four and orchards of apples and cherries at Lyndonville, NY. His youngest son, Benjamin Girtain-Plowe was born in 1989 and is a 2011 graduate of Cornell University College of Engineering, residing in Binghamton, NY. Gordon continued to operate the orchard until he reached age 65 when he retired for the second time.
Then in 1996 he moved to the lower Hudson River area, bought an old 1874 farmhouse and worked in the apple orchards with Dressel Farms. He continued there until he retired for the third and last time in 2004. Meanwhile, he and Betty (Milliken) Behrens were married, July 27, 2002. They lived in the 1874 farmhouse doing lots of renovations for four years and then took up residence in Betty’s 2000 home in Mitchell, SD.
Gordon is also survived by his brother, Ayden (Joan) Plowe of Rochester, NY, numerous nieces and nephews, a stepdaughter, Lynnette (Steve) Shattuck of Mitchell, stepson Jeff Milliken of Mitchell, four step-grandchildren and two step-greatgrandchildren. His life story proves that old adage that: “You can take the boy out of the farm, but you can’t take the farm out of the boy.”
In lieu of flowers, memorial gifts may be sent to International Rescue Committee, 122 East 42nd Street, New York, NY 10168, or help.rescue.org. These will be a blessing for refugees and other people around the world affected by conflict, violence and natural disasters.