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Bill Plageman

Obituary of Bill Plageman



Jan 20, 1933-May 5, 2021


William “Bill” Plageman, age 88 years old, went to be with his savior, our Lord Jesus Christ on Wednesday, May 5, 2021 at 6:04 pm.  His daughter Aileen held his hand as he left on his journey toward heaven.  He was also attended by the loving, compassionate staff at the Valley Haven Care Home and Hospice of Santa Cruz.  Bill will be remembered most for being a devoted husband, great Dad, loving grandfather, generous to all, and for integrity.  He loved dogs and always wished he could understand them as well as they do us.   


Bill Plageman was born in Oakland, California to Margaret Elizabeth Higgins.  He lived in Oroville, CA, attending Oroville High before moving to Santa Cruz in 1948.  Bill graduated from Santa Cruz High School (SCHS) in 1950 and attended Hartnell College in Salinas. He joined the United States Navy during the Korean War serving 4 years as an Aviation Machinist’s Mate in Honolulu, HI and Corpus Christi, TX. 


Upon his return to Santa Cruz, Bill met his wife Gail Maureen Plageman (Martin, SCHS 1956) on a blind date at the Santa Cruz High Donkey Basketball Game.  They were married January 26, 1957 in Mt. Hermon.  They enjoyed the outdoors, camping, fishing, hunting and spending time with family.


Bill began his career in law enforcement in 1956 as an officer for the Santa Cruz Police Department for 2 years and then as a deputy sheriff for 31 years before retiring in 1987.  Bill wanted a fun, exciting job but he also believed in justice.  While in the Navy, he was pulled over by police in Texas and placed in a line-up for bank robbery where he was picked-out by an eye witness.  The FBI could not beat a confession out of him despite breaking his ear drums, causing him permanent balance and hearing problems.  Fortunately, the bank robber continued his spree and Bill was vindicated.  He later taught the significance of corroborating evidence in eyewitness testimony.  Bill was a graduate of the FBI Academy, Quantico, VA, Class 182 in 1976. He worked many investigations, served as the Jail Commander during the transition from the Front Street Jail to the Water Street Jail and served as the Director of Emergency Services (OES) during the 1982 Flood and Lexington Fire.  Bill was 20 years ahead of his time when he unsuccessfully advocated for direct supervision in corrections where officers essentially “lived” with the inmate population. 


Bill is survived by his wife Gail Plageman, brother Mark Simmons (wife Gail) of San Jose, sister-in-law Marjorie Martin (Day), (SCHS 1953) of Kingman, AZ, daughter Aileen Wolff (SCHS 1980), (husband Tom), son Fred Plageman (SCHS 1983), (wife Gina, SCHS 1983), and grandchildren Jacob, Maureen, Leah Wolff and Genevieve Plageman (SCHS 2017).


Bill was preceded in death by his mother, Margaret Simmons (Higgins), sister Patricia Simmons, father-in-law Fred and mother-in-law Ada Lu Martin (Jessee), brother-in-law Wesley Martin (SCHS 1952) and his dearest neighbor Harry Dong (SCHS 1979).


No services are being held.  Contributions in Bill’s honor can be made to Santa Cruz Bible Church or Hospice of Santa Cruz. 



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A Memorial Tree was planted for Bill
We are deeply sorry for your loss ~ the staff at Benito & Azzaro Pacific Gardens Chapel