Harold Johnson Plumley died Friday evening, March 8, 2019, at the age of 92.
He was residing at the Sommerfield Health Center located at the Heritage in Franklin, Tennessee.
“Never be Satisfied.” Those three words epitomized Harold’s restless energy, creativity and accomplishment during nine decades of life. Raised on an Indiana tenant farm during the Great Depression, Harold was inducted into the U.S. Army Air Force immediately out of high school. He was awarded the World War II Victory Medal and Army Air Force Certificate of Achievement upon his honorable discharge in 1947. Through the GI Bill, he completed two years of college at the International Business College in Ft. Wayne, Indiana. Starting out as an accounting clerk with Freuhauf Trailer in Ft. Wayne, Harold subsequently took a position as CFO of American Brattice Cloth, a mining supply company in Warsaw, Indiana. The job was good and the salary lucrative, but Harold longed to advise a broader range of business clients. After obtaining admission as a Certified Public Accountant, in 1962 he became a partner in a public accounting firm in Muncie, Indiana. As a CPA, Harold encountered numerous successful enterprises and learned the fundamentals of business management. In 1967, still not satisfied, Harold embarked upon his true calling as an
entrepreneur, acquiring a small manufacturing business in Paris, Tennessee, which employed 35 people with annual sales of $600,000. He renamed the business Plumley Companies. Although the core of the business involved synthetic rubber polymers, about which he knew nothing, Harold studied polymer chemistry through correspondence courses and hired creative people to figure out new product applications for such materials. Among others, he attracted his four sons to the business, who helped build the company. Shifting the focus of the business to the automotive industry, Plumley Companies earned the reputation as an innovative, nimble and high-quality supplier to any company which manufactured internal combustion engines anywhere in the world. When Harold sold the company to a publicly-traded enterprise in 1995, Plumley Companies had grown to 1,200 employees located in four states with annual sales exceeding $100 million. Anticipating “retirement,” Harold established a cattle operation in Ocala, Florida. However, his cattle farm abutted a thoroughbred horse racing stable. Still not satisfied, and once again knowing little to nothing about thoroughbreds, Harold decided that he was not too old to learn and embarked upon another new enterprise. At age 70, he acquired the racing stable and dramatically increased its scope of operations — including a brood mare stable along with the thoroughbred training and racing activities. During the next 15 years, Plumley Farms bred, trained, raced and sold over 500 thoroughbred horses and gained international recognition for the quality and racing performance of its thoroughbred horses. In 2010, one of the horses bred, raised and trained on Plumley Farms (Dubai Majesty) was recognized with the Eclipse Award — essentially an “Academy Award for Thoroughbred Horses” which is only granted to 12 thoroughbred horses out of over 35,000 born each year. Not entirely satisfied or engrossed in the new equine venture, Harold noted that agricultural businesses in Ocala were generally under-served in the field of commercial finance. Although knowing little about the banking industry, he was one of the founding investors in the Community Bank of Florida established in Ocala. Harold subsequently served on Community Bank’s Board of Directors for over 10 years. That institution now serves a broad regional market in central Florida, with assets exceeding $750 million, but still remains a community-focused bank. Along the way, Harold has been repeatedly recognized by his peers for his entrepreneurial spirit, leadership and success. He served as the Chairman of the Tennessee Association of Business (TAB) in 1990-91, the President of the Florida Thoroughbred Breeders and Owners Association (FTBOA) in 2000-04, and as a member of the Board of Directors for the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) during 1986-90.
Beyond business success, Harold felt obligated to “give back” through civic and philanthropic endeavors in the communities where he resided and did business. By way of major charitable gifts, he was instrumental in establishing a cultural legacy center in Paris, Tennessee, upgrading the quality of patient health services at the Marion County Hospital in Ocala, Florida, and installing a new organ carillon at the First Presbyterian Church (Legends) in Franklin, Tennessee. Harold’s restless energy, creativity and earth-bound philanthropy may now be stilled, but his business and community legacies live on.
Harold was a member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA), the Indiana Association of CPA’s, the American Legion, Elks Lodge #286, Masonic Lodge #108, and the First Presbyterian Church in Franklin, Tennessee.
Harold was born on Feb 7, 1927, in Convoy, Ohio. He was the eldest son of George Dewey Plumley and Esther Plumley (nee Johnson) of Rosebush, Michigan.
Harold is survived by his wife of 69 years — Opal A. Plumley, the love of his life — currently residing at The Heritage in Franklin, Tennessee. He is also survived by four sons — Michael, Stephen, Richard, and William — residing respectively in Franklin Tennessee, Knoxville Tennessee, and Ocala Florida, and by 12 grandchildren and 8
great grandchildren. He is also survived by two brothers — Dean and Chalmer — residing in Illinois and Indiana, and one sister — Eva Mae Rambo — residing in Bloomington Indiana.
Memorial services will be held at 11 a.m. on March 14, 2019, in the sanctuary at the First Presbyterian Church located at 101 Legends Club Lane in Franklin, TN. A reception will follow the services in Fellowship Hall.
In lieu of flowers, gifts may be made to the First Presbyterian Church (Legends) in Franklin, TN.