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Kim Lian Plemons

May 20, 1950 - July 13, 2019

Kim Lian Plemons died as she wished at home on July 13, 2019. Her family cared for her under the direction and support of Hospice of Spokane. We are extremely grateful to them. Sixty nine years old, she was born in Malaysia to the Wong family, first generation overseas Chinese. She had a Cantonese father, Wong Lim, and a Hakka mother, Nguin Thai. She graduated with academic achievement and served as Head Prefect from 1st to 5th Form in the first graduating class from her town’s English medium school. She had acquired fluency in numerous languages including Cantonese and Hakka. She was also an athlete who enjoyed a variety of sports and had accumulated a long shelf of trophies. She then went to Singapore for intensive preparation to teach in a private privileged kindergarten. After returning to her hometown to teach she later married David Plemons. She prepared well for the imminent change to American culture by spending a few hours in a favorite Malay restaurant watching the entire process of preparing that style of cuisine. She grew up with many Indian friends and through close observation got a handle on their cooking techniques as well. Of course she did spend hours growing up and watching Chinese kitchen methodology in many houses. She committed to a few days training at a sewing school. She quickly became a proficient seamstress. She became able to produce her own newspaper patterns for favorite designs gleaned from fashion magazines and especially from the ladies around her. In 1969 she emigrated from her diverse home community to the then exceedingly provincial Spokane. She attended Barton School and quickly earned her GED. Then she herself taught ESL to other immigrants. Furthermore she became a volunteer Mandarin and Cantonese translator for non English-speaking Chinese immigrants. She helped them to negotiate our challenging legal and medical systems. She enrolled her son in the original Parent-Teacher Co-op at Glover Mansion where she arranged learning experiences for the children. She taught cooking classes at the YWCA and elsewhere. She served on numerous boards including the Youth Symphony. After a brief stint as a classroom volunteer at her daughter’s elementary school, Grant, the principal hired her as a Teachers’ Aide. Later she advanced to become the Home School Liaison at Roosevelt Elementary and then at Grant again. She took leave for one year to obtain a teaching certificate and one year later she had additionally obtained a Master’s Degree in Education. Earlier she had helped organize the non-certified employees of District 81 to join the Spokane Education Association. She immediately served as first the non-certified and later the certified co-chair of the SEA Bargaining Committee in which role she served for over thirty years until her retirement. She served on the bargaining team in many additional capacities. She was the co-chair of different units as well as the official recorder. She was deeply committed to constructive and collaborative collective bargaining emphasizing a positive tone with no losers. Her over-arching goal was service to the whole community. She was a long-term building representative and served as a zone director ex officio. She was elected to the Board of the SEA, and later served as Treasurer and eventually Vice-President. As one of her most proud accomplishments she put the finances of the SEA on a sound footing. She also served on the board of the Washington Education Association. The SEA membership elected her as a national NEA delegate for over twenty consecutive years. Upon retirement in honor of her lengthy constructive service and dedication to public education the SEA created an annual service award they named in honor of Kim. Our community much enjoyed Kim’s culinary skills, admired her sewing creativity, her knitting prowess, her crocheting and even tatting. She acquired the domestic skills of canning and drying a variety of fruit as well as fermenting sauerkraut. She enjoyed creating jewelry. She could throw clay. She practiced brush calligraphy with the Four Treasures of the Study. She worked on paper crafting and designing greeting cards. She created classroom resources. Kim and her husband celebrated their 50th anniversary in 2018. She is survived by her husband, David, by her two children Joan Medina and Bradford Wong Plemons (wife Jennifer) with grandson Sheldon and her sister Mooi Lien Wong and son-in-law Ted Medina as well as numerous other brothers, sisters and extended family who live in Asia. We will honor her at a Celebration of Life later this year at a venue on a date and time to be announced. Donations in her name are welcome and we suggest Hospice of Spokane or the Peoples’ Memorial Association or the Peace and Justice Action League of Spokane or a non-profit organization of your choice. Your condolences are also welcome on her tribute wall which will be established at the website of Pacific Northwest Cremation Service. You will find her tribute wall at www.pnwcremation.com/obituaries/obituary-listings.

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