Elsie Plunkett History

Elsie Groner Plunkett passed away at her Lake Berryessa home on May 7, 2009 at the age of 87. Elsie grew up in Oslo, Norway, as the daughter of a prominent engineer with her 3 brothers. She lived through the Nazi occupation of Norway. Her family helped the resistance fighters, hiding them in the basement. After the war, she attended college in Norway and became an architect. At the age of 25, she immigrated to America, working in New York and San Francisco, where she met her lifetime friend Dorothy Schell and they enjoyed many adventures.

She met her husband, Wesley B. Plunkett, on a Sierra Club hike to Mt. Tamalpais and they were married in Chico in 1958. A devoted wife and mother, she raised her family side by side with her husband at their home in Spanish Flat. She enjoyed a large extended family of friends and neighbors.   

At that time, the Berryessa Valley was just being filled with water due to the construction of the Monticello Dam. Inspired by their love of nature and desire to share it with others, Wes and Elsie formed Spanish Flat Resort, Inc. on the west shore of the lake, and began the development of the Spanish Flat area to which she devoted the next 31 years of her life. She was a fixture at the Napa County Planning Department and Board of Supervisors meetings in Napa, fighting to promote and develop Spanish Flat and Lake Berryessa. 

She was very dedicated to her community as a founder, board member and president of Spanish Flat Water District and founding member of the Lake Berryessa Chamber of Commerce and the Ladies of the Lake. She also served on the St. Helena School Board, St. Helena Hospital advisory board, and helped establish the church at Spanish Flat. Wes and Elsie donated the land for the Berryessa Senior Center and she became a lifetime member.

In her retirement she traveled and enjoyed music, her grandchildren, her garden and feeding wild birds. She played the piano beautifully up until two weeks before her death, and never lost her optimism and sense of humor.

She was predeceased by her husband, Wesley B. Plunkett, and her brother, Christian Frederik Groner. She is survived by daughter Mary Anne Taylor; son Wesley F. Plunkett; granddaughters Andrea and Danielle Taylor; grandsons Ryan and Brandon Plunkett; her brothers in Norway, Robert and Thor, many nieces and nephews; and a host of wonderful friends. 

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