She was born Cuma Pauline Swofford on October 15, 1926 in the home of her parents, Melvin and Hattie Swofford, near Carr Lane, Missouri. She went to McCullough Elementary School and then graduated from Blue Eye High School, Blue Eye, Missouri, in 1944. She attended Southwest Missouri State for the summer and received her teaching certificate for grades 1-8. In the fall of 1944, she began teaching in Brock School District near Shell Knob, Missouri. She lived with the Writer family, and later with her brother Dewey so that she was always chaperoned (which was required of single teachers at the time). While living with the Writers, she helped deliver their son, Wayne, who was named after her brother, Dewey Wayne. Later, she named her oldest son Mickey Wayne.
She taught elementary education for all eight grades for many years in Brock, Fields, Gaddis, and other school districts. For several years during the summers, she would continue working on her college degree at SMS in Springfield and Southwest Baptist College in Bolivar, Missouri.
In 1946, she met William “Bill” Plummer and they were married in 1947 in Eureka Springs, Arkansas. She said goodbye to her sister, Bernice, and told her she was getting married. Bill was waiting outside. Her mother came in and inquired where she was going and Bernice informed her that she was going to get married. Her mother ran out the back door and proceeded to pray; the rest is history. After they were married, they traveled to Visalia, California, and worked in the fruit harvest along with several other relatives from Missouri.
In February 1948, Pauline gave birth to a daughter, Sandra Kay, in Visalia. After a couple of weeks, the couple returned to Shell Knob, Missouri, where Bill cut cedar posts and started raising Hereford cattle. Pauline had all white/roan cattle that she started raising before she was married. By the time she was married, she had 19 head. She was careful that Bill did not claim her cattle!
After her marriage, Pauline taught school at Fields School District. They purchased the Bart Roberts farm and Bill farmed, built up their Hereford cattle herd, and cut cedar posts, and Pauline continued teaching. She always helped outside on the farm when she was not teaching.
In 1954, they had a son, Mickey Wayne, who was born in Cassville, Missouri. In 1957, a second son, Stephen Eugene was added; he was also born in Cassville.
Shortly after Stephen’s birth, the family moved to the Vanzant area south of Mountain Grove, Missouri. They purchased the Lamb and Besson farms for a total of 422 acres. Later, they purchased an additional 100 acres from Charles and Vera Collins. They had a dairy, ran beef cattle, hogs, and raised corn. Their farm near Shell Knob was taken over by the Corps of Engineers to build Table Rock Lake. The old farm was mostly flooded and became Campbell Point Boat Dock.
Pauline always took interest in the community. She helped found the Vanzant Community Organization, which continues to function today. This was an effort to preserve the old school building, which is now used as a community center. She served on the Extension Council, and was a leader of Up’N At’T 4-H Club. She worked on the election board as a judge for over 30 years. She served many county boards and community organizations including Democratic Community for Douglas County. She was proud of the recognition from various organizations including Who’s Who in America.
Around 1962, Pauline began working with the State School for Developmentally Disabled children. This continued for many years. She provided transportation for the children and would drive all the way to the Dawson and Manes areas to pick up students, as well as teaching in the classroom. She worked in the Cabool state school and later in Mountain Grove. She served on the workshop board for almost 30 years. In the early ‘90s, she and her brothers Darrell and George purchased a residential care in Houston and later added Texas County Residential Care. In 2001, she purchased Mountain Grove Residential Care, which was known as Elmwood. They provided staff to care for 70-75 residents per month. When it came to business, she was willing to take on big risks and challenges. She never backed down and no one could intimidate her. She loved the business world.
Pauline had a licensed foster home in her home for the MR/DD Department of Mental Health until the age of 65. Carol, Brenda and Helene were treated just like the rest of the children.
She taught Adult Basic Education for almost 30 years with her partner, Geneva Hancock. She taught at Vanzant Community Building, as well as Mountain Grove and Ava. Many people in the community have expressed appreciation for Pauline encouraging them to get their GED diplomas.
Pauline and Bill ran the restaurant at Ava Sale Barn for a few years. But they are mostly known for the Plummer’s Junction Store near Vanzant where they had a convenience store, gas station, beauty shop, and restaurant for many years. People came from miles around to eat fish, listen to music, and visit with their neighbors every Friday night and Sunday at dinner. It became a local meeting place. Pauline never wanted to quit. Even though she was not able, she continued as long as possible serving a hundred or so people every Friday night until the age of 79. She would start at 5:00 a.m. and continue until 9:00 p.m. or later.
Work had to stop after Bill began to struggle with heart problems and colon cancer. She never left him alone. She stayed night after night at the hospital while he was undergoing treatment. Bill passed in November 2005, and Pauline tried to manage on her own.
Her spark was gone; she wanted life to continue as it always had. She never realized her limitations. Her health and abilities became more challenging and she moved to Mountain Grove into a new home on Ferris Street in 2011. She always said, “It’s just not Vanzant!” She lived there for three years and finally had to spend six weeks in Autumn Oaks Nursing Home after a fall resulted in a broken wrist. For the last four months of her life, she resided in Country Living Assisted Living in Mountain Grove. She became suddenly ill and passed quietly and peacefully in the afternoon on January 9, 2015.
Pauline was a Christian all her life. She followed the teachings of her grandfather, Matt Swofford, a Church of God minister. Her parents always kept her in church and she raised her children and grandchildren the same way. She was a member of Pryor Church south of Mountain Grove.
She was preceded in death by her parents, Melvin and Hattie Swofford; her husband of 58 years, William Plummer; a granddaughter, Amy; a grandson, Chris Smith; a son-in-law, Jerry Smith; a brother, Darrell Swofford; and a brother-in-law, Jay W. Sanders.
Pauline is survived by her three children, daughter Sandra Smith of Willow Springs, Missouri, and son Mick and wife Brenda and son Steve and fiancée Jan Ramaeker, all of Mountain Grove; grandchildren John Plummer (Hope) of Mtn. Grove, Scott Smith (Kristy) of Olathe, Kansas, Christina Mahurin (Sonny) of Mtn. Grove, Jason Plummer (Shawna) of Nashville, Tennessee, Melanie Plummer of Mtn. Grove, Joyce (Chris) Lemon of Phoenix, Arizona, and Linda (Frans) Santo of Jakarta, Indonesia; and great-grandchildren Isaac Plummer, Chaseton, Devin, and Shiana Mahurin, Brooke Barry, Kris, Julie, Jocelyn and Jax Smith, Edmond Lemon, and Nicolas Santo. A new great-grandson is expected in June and a great-granddaughter later in Nashville.
She is also survived by her brothers, George (Willie) Swofford of Mtn. Grove, and Dewey (Yvonne) Swofford of Wheaton, Missouri; her sisters, Lanora Sanders of West Plains, Missouri, Melva (Chuck) Peterson of Clinton, Missouri, Bernice (Leland) Van Fosson of Springfield, Missouri, and Wanda (Jack) Smith of Hartville, Missouri; her sisters-in-law, Norma Sanders of Mtn. Grove and Willadean Swofford of Cabool; plus a host of other relatives and friends.
Memorials may be made to the Sheltered Workshop, Wright County Children’s Home, Pine View Christian Home, or the Jerry Smith Memorial Scholarship Fund with the EAA Chapter in Willow Springs, Missouri, c/o the funeral home.
Visitation will be held on Thursday, January 15, 2015, from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. at Craig-Hurtt Funeral Home. Funeral services will be held on Friday, January 16, 2015, at 12:30 p.m. at South Street Church of God in Mountain Grove with Rev. Gene Swofford officiating. Burial will be in Hillcrest Cemetery under the direction of Craig-Hurtt Funeral Home.