By Barb Arland-Fye
LECLAIRE — Wiley Plummer of Our Lady of the River Parish received the St. George Emblem, a lifetime achievement award for Catholic scouting, at the end of Mass on April 22.
“I’m not used to accepting awards; I like giving them out,” the humble Scout said after receiving the diocesan award. Heidi, his wife of 50 years, stood beside her husband as Tom McDermott, Scout executive/CEO of the Boy Scouts of America, Illowa Council, presented the award.
Plummer’s dedication to the parish, especially his work with youth, the parish council, the Knights of Columbus and his half-century of involvement in scouting made him a worthy candidate for the award, McDermott said.
“The young Scouts in our church look forward to Wiley being part of our Scout Sunday Mass every year,” said Annette Blunk, a parishioner who nominated Plummer for the award. “The Scouts of our parish have great respect for Wiley and his many accomplishments. He is a great role model for our youth,” added Blunk, who serves Boy Scout Troop 24 as Outdoor Activities Committee member.
Plummer joined the Boy Scouts in his youth. While he didn’t earn Eagle rank, he achieved something even greater: as Scout Master in West Burlington, 10 of his scouts over a period of years achieved Eagle rank — including his and Heidi’s son, Randy, who died in December 2009. Their son, Ronald, also was a Boy Scout.
Scouting also brought Wiley and his wife into the Catholic Church. They were leading an Explorer group in West Burlington at St. Mary Parish because the Methodist Church was too small. The pastor of St. Mary’s, Father Lou Mulligan, encouraged the couple in their decision to convert some 30 years ago.
Heidi said she has always supported her husband’s scouting and other endeavors. “He loves to get involved. He’s never learned to say no,” she said.
As a result of his commitment to scouting Wiley has earned the Scouter’s Training Award three times, the Scouter’s Key three times, District Award of Merit and Wood Badge Award. He has been a member of the Order of Arrow — Sacem Rank — and a 20-year-member of Tribal Council.
The Knights of Columbus is another organization for which Plummer has great passion. A Fourth Degree Knight, he previously served as Grand Knight for Our Lady of the River Knights of Columbus Council and has served in numerous other roles at the parish level and district level. He helped out with the KC Youth Basketball Contest and the Toostie Roll Drive, which benefits individual with intellectual challenges.
Before moving to LeClaire more than 22 years ago, the Plummers were actively involved in the West Burlington community. Wiley served on the local fire and police departments and was firefighter of the year in 1976. After moving to LeClaire, the Plummers opened a successful business, Kernel Cody’s Popcorn Shoppe, in downtown LeClaire. Wiley also is a retired, award-winning Pella Windows salesman.
Blunk wrote in the nomination form that “Wiley follows the Scout Law every day of his life by being a trustworthy, loyal and helpful friend to many. Wiley is always friendly, courteous and kind. He is obedient, cheerful. Wiley is thrifty, brave and clean. And, most of all, Wiley is reverent to God and to others.”
St. George Emblem
Creation of an award for adults who make a significant contribution to the spiritual development of Catholic youth in Boy Scout of America programs was first considered in 1953 during the Biennial Conference of the National Catholic Committee on Scouting. The following year, the St. George Emblem was approved for Catholic adult laymen. In 1968, the medal was approved also for women, non-Catholics, clergy and religious. Each diocese is limited in the number of emblems that may be awarded based on the number of scouting units within the boundaries of their diocese.