Midwest horseman Dwayne Pletcher dies
July 07, 2017
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Dwayne Pletcher, 85, of Shipshewana, Ind., passed away on July 5 at Parkview LaGrange Hospital, LaGrange, Ind.
Mr. Pletcher was a leader trainer and driver and a member of one of Chicago's most famous harness racing families. Born in Goshen, Ind., on July 27, 1931, to Lester and Irma Pletcher, Dwayne drove in his first race the day before he turned 15 in 1946 at the Cassopolis, Mich., county fair, where in three heats with P.J. Volo he finished 2-2-1 for his first win.
He graduated from Shipshewana High School in 1949 and served in the US Army as a sergeant in Korea. Upon his return he resumed harness racing as his career and passion. He won 1,477 races in his lifetime, including the Sportsman's Park Midwest Derby three times with Transient in 1966, Teffe in 1970 and Overcast in 1973. Also Chaw, the 1972 Illinois Horse of the Year, was campaigned by Dwayne. Others in the long line of top horses he's handled include Pacing Boy, Pepe Dancer, Shady Counsel, Right Honor, Galahad, Nemma Hanover, Sherry's Honor, H.D. Counsel, Shady Mile, Sluf, Tuit and stakes-winning Butter Up, Vieta, Miss Yankee Doodle and Perfect Illusion.
Mr. Pletcher was the leading driver at Maywood Park in 1958, and eighth in the nation in 1959. He was a member of the Illinois Harness Horseman's Association, the Indiana Standardbred Association, and the United States Trotting Association, racing in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky, New York Pennsylvania and California.
Mr. Pletcher mentored both of his sons, Steve and Jeff, who also made harness racing their life's work.
He is survived by his wife of 63 years, Areta; sons Steve (Vickie) Pletcher and Jeff Pletcher, all of Shipshewana; grandson Brett (Amber) Pletcher and great-grandchildren Ethan, Landon and Bailey Pletcher of Topeka, Ind., and brother Delmer Pletcher of Howe, Ind. He was predeceased by his parents and his brother, Donald.
No services will be held. Please send condolences to PO Box 6, Shipshewana, IN 46565 or donations to the Food and Clothes Basket in LaGrange, IN in Dwayne's name. Online condolences may be sent at millerstewartfuneralhome.com.