Gail Jean Plemmons took her last breath at her home Dec. 30, 2019, in Columbia. She was born Feb. 14, 1950, in Springfield, Missouri.
Gail inherited a fierce love from her mother, Mary Butler Plemmons, and a jovial positivity from her father, Ray L. Plemmons. Gail was a stellar student, attending Strafford public schools and graduating from Strafford High School. After becoming a registered nurse at Burge School of Nursing in 1971, she worked in a psychiatric hospital. That program ended and she moved to St. Louis, continuing psychiatric nursing.
Gail met her soulmate, Brian Page, in 1976 in St. Louis. They moved to rural southwest Michigan enjoying a “back to earth” lifestyle, and were married Oct. 3, 1981. Gail balanced that with working in a women’s clinic. She joined a group of environmentalists, who successfully prevented the Allegan Forest from being clear-cut. She joined the Valley Alliance of Kalamazoo, Michigan, working to stop nuclear proliferation. In the late 1970s, Gail took on the leading role in “Alice in Blunderland,” which pointed out the lunacy of nuclear war and weapons.
Gail and Brian returned to Missouri in 1985, moving to Columbia. They missed family and needed to come back. She realized Columbia’s need for recycling and, with two others, initiated meetings with Columbia Public Works to create a program that would divert recyclables from landfilling. She was hired as the director of Physicians for Social Responsibility, working to end nuclear proliferation. Gail, Susan Morse and Linda Harlan founded Parenting for Peace and Justice in Columbia. As a team they helped families learn peacemaking skills and conducted many conflict resolution workshops.
Gail’s interest in sustainability and social justice lead her to employment and/or volunteer work at True North-Women’s Shelter, Columbia Central Neighborhoods Sustainability, NORML (for medical marijuana), Native Plants Society, Columbia Center for Urban Agriculture, Unity Center of Columbia and paraprofessional/classroom aiding at Benton, Fairview and Grant elementary schools.
Gail was an active member of Columbia’s West Ash Neighborhood Association. One of her favorite events was the annual Pollinator Days to spread the word on native plants and their benefits. She picked up trash and recyclables when she walked around town, “keeping plastic and other junk out of the streams.” She moved other peoples’ discards at the curb to the “free store,” for “better exposure” curbside in front of her house.
In 1990, Gail and Brian opened Mixed Company Coffee House on Walnut Street in downtown Columbia. From 1990 to 1995, they ran a beloved place where people could come out of the weather into a welcoming atmosphere. All people were welcomed as customers, and many stayed all day drinking good coffee and eating good food. The decor was a mix of recycled furniture and wall art. It was aptly described as “Mediterranean on the Prairie.”
Gail’s artistic expressions included singing in the Quorus Choir and Universal Dances for Peace. She co-directed and performed in three plays: “Alice in Blunderland” in 1987, “The Night Thoreau Spent in Jail” in 1988 and “Beloved Friend” in 1989. These were done for Peace Perspective sponsored by MU’s Peace Studies Department.
Gail is survived by her husband, Brian Page, of Columbia; stepson Christopher Page of Sacramento, California; sister Janet Plemmons of Springfield, Missouri; brothers David and wife Susan and son Evan Plemmons of Republic, Missouri, Ron Plemmons and wife Teena Bryan of St. Petersburg, Florida, and Michael Plemmons (Akemi) of Okinawa, Japan. Gail is also survived by nieces April and husband Kent Stephens of Strafford, Missouri, and Debi Toyozato, sons Kaito and Ukito and husband John Moore of East Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania; as well as numerous cousins.
Following her wishes, Gail was laid to rest with a sacred green burial Jan. 2 at Columbia Cemetery. Family and friends appreciate the exceptional assistance of Heartland Cremation & Burial Society. A memorial celebration of Gail’s life will be held at Unity Center of Columbia on a date to be announced later.
Gail developed a “passionate compassion” for the homeless. A GoFundMe campaign has been established to help fulfill Gail’s dream of year-round living quarters for the homeless and address some of their immediate needs. Donations in memory of Gail may be made to GoFundMe.com: search Gail Plemmons, or in care of Brian Page, email@example.com.