Dr. John Plachetka, a part-time resident of Door County, has donated $5,000 to the 2019 St. John Bosco Golf Outing through the Plachetka Family Fund, a donor advised fund at Vanguard Charitable Foundation, in honor his late mother, Lucille.

He communicated this generous donation to the Golf Outing General Chair, David Weber. David asked Dr. Plachetka to give a bio of his mother and himself for publication. What follows is Dr. Plachetka’s response:

Lucille Firlick was born in 1930 and was educated at a Catholic grade school in the Chicago area, even though her European immigrant parents struggled through the Great Depression, just as many millions of other American citizens.  She attended Catholic high school at Nazareth Academy in La Grange, where she excelled at all her academic subjects, as well as music and voice, and graduated with honors.

Typical of young ladies of her generation, she chose to forego college and soon married her high school sweetheart, Robert Plachetka, in 1950.  They moved to Aurora, Illinois, where Robert worked at Illinois Bell as a lineman/manager until his retirement in 1984.  As the family grew to include 4 daughters and two sons within 10 years, Lucille and Robert (Lou and Bob as they were known to friends) insisted that all their children attend the local Catholic school in Aurora, Illinois—Our Lady of Good Council (OLGC).  For almost two decades, there was at least one Plachetka child at OLGC—-and the younger ones, unfortunately, had to endure comparisons (some good, and some bad) to the older siblings who went before them. 

Money was tight for the family, and once everyone was in school, Lucille took a part-time job at a local department store and played the organ at weddings/funerals to earn extra money to help pay the tuition for all the children.   All of the girls attended Catholic high school in Aurora, also.  It was a happy home, with lots of laughter but a strong emphasis on education—no TV until homework was completed.

After experiencing a health scare in the late 1960’s, Lou and Bob decided that Lou would need a more marketable skill in case something happened to Bob.  So, Lucille began taking night classes at Waubonsie Community College shortly after its opening.  When she had earned enough credits, she enrolled at Aurora College (now University) and earned her BS degree in Education, with a specialization in mathematics.  She eventually earned a MS from NIU.   She loved learning, and she loved teaching even more. 

She taught 7/8 grade at St Joseph’s Catholic School in Aurora for nearly a decade until she and Bob retired to Fort Myers, Fl.  She was not ready to retire, however, and immediately accepted a teaching job at St Francis Xavier Catholic Grade School in Fort Myers, Fl.  She held this position for many years, even after the death of her beloved husband in 1990.  After a call from the pastor of OLGC in Aurora, Illinois inviting her to come home and help him modernize the school curriculum, Lucille returned to Aurora—first as assistant principal, then as principal for a term of 5 years.  In that time, she achieved all the goals set for her by the pastor. 

In all, Lucille had nearly a 30 year career as an full-time educator in Catholic schools, finally retiring from full time teaching in her 70’s. Until she passed away at the age of 86, however, she continued to tutor both gifted and special needs children at St Peters Catholic School in Montgomery, Ill.   After her death, many, many of her former students attended the visitation and told her children of the impact “Mrs. Plachetka” had in their lives.

Lucille, with Bob’s support, was a great educator and supporter of Catholic education.  Thanks to the excellent education that I received from my parents, the School Sisters of St Francis at OLGC, and the faculty at Creighton University, I was able to become a pharmacist, Doctor of Pharmacy, Professor at the University of Arizona College of Pharmacy, and eventually a researcher and developer of new medicines during my 35 year career in the pharmaceutical industry.  In 1996, I founded a biotech/pharma company (POZN-Nasdaq) and remained as the CEO, Chief Scientist, and Chairman of the Board of Directors until my retirement in 2015. 

To help share some of the financial benefits my career brought me, it was my pleasure to create a donor-advised fund at Vanguard Charitable Foundation, The Plachetka Family Fund.  One of the targets of our philanthropy is supporting Catholic grade school education, just as our parents did throughout their lives.  We are pleased to be able to continue to provide financial support to the St. John Bosco School in Sturgeon Bay, WI, along with the many others who participate in this important event. 

The entire St. John Bosco community wishes to thank Dr. Plachetka for his generosity!