A classic song by the Bee Gees once rang, “It’s only words and words are all I have/To take your breath away.”
Mary Caldwell Plumer embodied the sentiment. She was a writer since childhood when she began writing poems in elementary school. She was an advertising director for the Miami family firm, Richard Plumer Interior Design, and journalism major at the University of North Carolina.
Plumer, who died at 95 on Nov. 12 in Cutler Bay, used her way with words to charm friends all the way through her senior years.
“We looked to her daily for memorable expressions, and she unfailingly met the challenge. If we would provide even the least conversational soil, she would grow a giant sunflower before our very eyes. We would chortle as she would write rhymes and songs and draw her little faces,” recalls a close friend, U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen.
Born on Oct. 21, 1920, in Live Oak, Florida, Plumer moved to Coral Gables in 1923. Her father, Stafford Caldwell, was an attorney for George Merrick and helped in the development of the Gables..
During World War II, Plumer worked as a publicity director for Atlanta radio station WSB, served with the American Red Cross and spent two years at the Army Air Force Redistribution Station on Miami Beach hosting returning air combat veterans.
After the war, Plumer, “Mere” to friends, married Lt. Commander Richard Plumer and became advertising director for his home furnishing store on Northeast 40th Street. Two years after his death in 1990, Plumer became the company’s chairman. “I’ve come back in because I know more about the residential side. This was very much a mom-and-pop operation, not only with Dick’s parents, but with Dick and me, too,” she told the Miami Herald in 1992.
“Mere was more than a person, more than a personality, though she was both of those,” Ros-Lehtinen said. “She was a personage, by all the verities. She was an original.”
She is part of the fabric of our lives, now and forever. She gave us her unlimited enthusiasm and loyalty, and instilled in us the desire to adhere to the standards she established.
U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen on her friend Mary Plumer
Sure enough, Plumer penned some of her own words for her obituary.
“I am grateful to my family, my old friends, my new friends and the staff of East Ridge Retirement Village for my final years of happiness, joy and laughter.”
Plumer is survived by her daughter Patience Flick, her son Richard Plumer II, and her three grandchildren, Penny, Bonnie and Willis Flick. Two children, Penny and Christopher, predeceased her. After Penny’s death, she and her husband helped establish the Inter-Faith chapel at Jackson Memorial in her memory.
Services will be held at 1:30 p.m. Sunday at the East Ridge Retirement Village Chapel, 19301 SW 87th Ave., Cutler Bay. Donations can be made in her honor to Sunrise Community Foundation, 9040 Sunset Dr., Miami.