Herbert J. Pluschau believed so much in the power of education to change society that he became a teacher, serving in almost every position in the Massapequa school district.
Pluschau, who rose from substitute teacher to superintendent in the hamlet, died Monday at St. Joseph Hospital in Bethpage of complications from a stroke. He was 82.
"He loved Massapequa," his daughter Christine Pluschau Cone of Marietta, Ga., said. "I don't understand loving a town. But he loved Massapequa."
Massapequa High School's hall of fame honored Pluschau in 1994 for his decades of service. "It was really unusual for someone to span their whole career in one district," Cone said.
Pluschau stayed active after he retired in 1988. Developing a passion for searching for Massapequa High alumni, he served as president of the hall of fame and organized its annual golf outing charity event, Cone said.
The son of German immigrants, Pluschau was born in Brooklyn and raised in Maspeth, Queens. He played basketball at Grover Cleveland High School, from which he graduated in 1948. He earned his bachelor's degree in education in 1952 from the State University of New York at Brockport. In 1963, he earned his master's degree in education from Hofstra University.
"He wanted to be a teacher because his mother wanted him to be a lawyer, and he never did what his mother wanted," Cone kidded.
In February 1953, Pluschau was hired as a substitute at Massapequa, and in 1956 he bought the house in the hamlet in which his wife of 60 years, Carol, still lives.
"He was hard working, he was dedicated," said his daughter. "It's just amazing how many lives he's touched. He has more Facebook friends than I do. He's a special man."
Pluschau enjoyed his role as one of the school's first physical education teachers and later, as a varsity basketball coach. "He's still in contact with a lot of the players, especially from the 1956 team," Cone said.
For the classes of 1958-1962, Pluschau served as guidance counselor; and he was vice principal from 1962 to 1967. He later served as a district administrative assistant, assistant superintendent, deputy superintendent and finally, superintendent of schools, beginning in 1982.
Pluschau received commendations from the U.S. House of Representatives, New York State Senate, Town of Oyster Bay, Village of Massapequa Park, Massapequa Board of Education, Massapequa Parent-Teachers Association and the Massapequa Federation of Teachers.
Services are planned Saturday at 10:30 a.m. at Grace Episcopal Church with interment at Grace Cemetery, Massapequa.