Aug. 20, 1920 – Jan. 8, 2013

Frank Ploetz spent the bulk of his working life as an attendant at Gowanda Psychiatric Center, but his true vocation was the outdoors. He died unexpectedly Tuesday at his daughter’s home in Tonawanda. He was 92.

Mr. Ploetz was born on his parents’ farm outside Ellicottville. His outdoor pursuits became the source of later stories ranging from trapping skunks for their hides to sell at the height of the Great Depression to capturing his first possum and taking it to school for show-and-tell – when possum were first starting to move into the region from the South.

He was valedictorian of his graduating class at West Valley High School in 1938.

Mr. Ploetz was a World War II-era veteran of the Army and also worked at Bell Aircraft before buying his first farm in the Otto area after the war. He worked at Gowanda Psychiatric Center from 1953 until his retirement in 1982.

Mr. Ploetz was a lifelong member of the Lutheran Church, the past three years at St. Paul’s in Eden.

He was a life member of the Cattaraugus County Trappers Association and enjoyed gardening, fishing and hunting – although pursuit of whitetail deer proved a study in frustration.

“He claimed to have gotten just seven deer in 75 years of hunting,” said his son, Elmer. “Four with a shotgun, the other three with vehicles.”

Other survivors include a daughter, Brenda Cross; another son, William; and a sister, Edith Betz.

His wife of 41 years, Dorothea, died in 1988.

A service will be at 11:30 a.m. Saturday in Immanuel Lutheran Church, 40 S. Chapel St., Gowanda.