In Memory of Our Friend: Steven Plottner

Steve Plottner, Past President and Board Member of OACCA,
Passed Away – July 2015

On a foggy Northwestern Ohio July morning, a truck braked a fraction of a second too late, bounded into on-coming traffic and in that instant, a wife lost a husband, children grieved a father, an agency was less a leader, Ohio’s children, families, and caregivers had one fewer advocate, and we at the Ohio Association of Child and Youth Professionals lost a dear friend. In that instant on July 13, 2015, Steve Plottner, past OACCYP board member and president, was gone.

Much has been written and said about Steve as a poet, family man, and former mayor of Marblehead, Ohio. Yet, it pales in comparison to the man. He was much more than words could describe. Little has been written about the professional side of Steve, the co-worker, advocate, and youth care executive. That is the Steve we met and trained with, advocated for the field’s professionals with, debated with, and, often agree with.

Steve was a staunch advocate for Ohio’s child and youth care professionals. He was involved with the association for over twenty years. If you ever attended one of our conferences, you saw Steve. He always wore a suit and often was seeing taking pictures of the events. If you were there, somewhere on an old roll of film or digital card your picture exists. He documented our events for the ages. I often joked with Steve that he had more pictures of me that my family. Actually, my Facebook profile picture, cropped out of an old conference group shot, was taken by Steve. It is the only picture of me I ever liked.

More importantly, if you met him he never forgot you. At the numerous state meetings that we attended, I often saw Steve shaking hands and telling folks how glad he was to see you. You could hear and feel his energy across a crowded room. In fact, he truly was glad to see you. He was genuine, he made you feel like the center of attention for that moment, his laugh and manners were infectious. Over the years, I’ve been in many county directors or placement workers offices. Often I would see LHS marketing material and would comment that Steve must have been there. My comment was always greeted with a smile.

Steve was much more than a political glad-hander. Steve was a man on a mission. A self-described workaholic, he was a man of integrity and passionate convictions. As president of this association, he strongly supported certification and professionalism of our members. You, the association’s members, were extremely important to him. He believed that you deserved much more recognition for the job that you do. For the record, the child treatment agency he lead, LHS Family Services, has more certified child and youth care professionals than any other agency in North America. He continued the practice established by former LHS Executive Director Harry Blackmon and strongly encouraged his workers to become members, complete their certification and made sure that they were paid when they did. Like us, he believed that trained and certified child and youth care professionals provided better care for children and families.

As chair and long-time member of the Ohio Association of Child Caring Agencies (OACCA) Residential Treatment Committee he strongly advocated for professionals working within Ohio’s residential treatment centers. When Steve was passionate about a topic or issue, there was little doubt where he stood. In recent years, Steve was elected to the board of OACCA. He had just started as that board’s treasurer when that truck took him away from us. We, the OACYCP, lost an advocate for our members with his passing.

When I told my college-age daughter of Steve’s passing, she sadly stated, “No, not the man that sends us the first Christmas card of the season!” She had only met Steve once or twice, but knew that he was responsible for kicking off our holidays each year of her life. Steve touched a lot of people that way. When I talk about Steve to those that knew him, we always laugh and smile.
Though his life ended on a foggy road, his memory and deeds continue. If you did or did not have the pleasure of meeting and knowing Steve, please continue his and your mission for advocating for the children and professionals that serve them. I am a better child and youth care professional for having known him. The association is better for his leadership. And the children and families of Ohio are better because of his life’s work.

— Chip Bonsutto, Board Member – OACYCP