Stephen K. Plume Jr.

Published 4:11 pm Thursday, December 24, 2009

Stephen K. Plume Jr., 91, of Tryon passed away on Tuesday, December 22, 2009 at the Smith Phayer Hospice House in Landrum.

He was born September 7, 1918, in Waterbury, Conn., and was the only child of the late Col. Stephen Plume and Pauline Brooke Plume. Steve was predeceased in 2001 by his childhood friend and love of his life, Latilla McKnight Plume.

Steve is survived by his four children: Stephen K. Plume III (Martha McDaniel) of White River Junction, Vt.; Betsy Plume (Ken Rainey) of Norristown, Penn.; John Plume (Rebecca) of Summerville, S.C.; and Ginny Plume (John Trippett) of Danbury, Conn.. He is also survived by eight grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren.

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Steve was educated at The Taft School in Watertown, Conn., and the U.S. Military Academy. Following his graduation in 1941 from West Point, he was stationed at Fort Benning, but was able to obtain a three-day leave in order to marry Latilla that autumn in Watertown, Conn.

In December, 1944, as a captain, Steve was assigned to Company K of the 393rd Infantry, a part of the 99th Division, to fight in the Battle of the Bulge. He was responsible for the critical junction of the Belgian woods trail of the towns Krinkelt and Rocherath and the International Highway. Unbeknownst to the U.S. forces, German war maps showed the Germans main war effort during the Battle of the Bulge was aimed directly at the 99th Division. Of the two platoons of Company K, one was decimated. In order to minimize additional catastrophic losses, Steve ordered his remaining men to fall back and return to the company command post. The artillery preparation which struck the 99th Division has been described by historians as one of the most vicious of the war. Steve and some of his men were captured as POWs. At one point, Steve escaped the POW camp but was recaptured several days later when he was discovered in a field by a German boy. He was returned to the POW camp and was released by his captors in 1945 when it became evident that the war was coming to an end. He was later awarded the Bronze Star in recognition of his Meritorious Achievement in Ground Operations Against the Enemy.

Steve also served his country in Korea before resigning from the U.S. Army in 1953. He then studied at the American Institute for Foreign Trade in Arizona and earned a BSM.

In 1980, Steve and Latilla left Connecticut to retire to Tryon. From there, they continued to pursue their love of travel until illness grounded them in the late 1990s.

A memorial service will be held at the Church of the Holy Cross in Tryon at a date and time to be advised. The family will hold a second memorial in the spring of 2010. Details will follow at a later date.

Steves family offers its deepest gratitude to his devoted caregivers and the loving staff of the Smith Phayer Hospice House, who ensured that his last days were comfortable and full of respect and affection.

In lieu of flowers, the family encourages friends to honor Steve with a contribution to any of the following organizations: Hospice of the Carolina Foothills, 130 Forest Glen Drive, Columbus, N.C. 28722; The Church of the Holy Cross, P.O. 279, Tryon, NC 28782; Tryon Fine Arts Center, 34 Melrose Ave., Tryon, N.C. 28782.

Cremation and funeral arrangements are being handled by McFarland Funeral Chapel, Tryon.

An online guest register is available at

McFarland Funeral Chapel, Tryon.