Dwayne Pletcher, 85, passed away Wednesday, July 5, 2017, at 11:45 p.m. at Parkview LaGrange Hospital.
Dwayne was one of the nation's top drivers and developers of colts and a member of one of Chicago's most famous harness racing families.
Dwayne was born July 27, 1931, in Goshen, to Lester and Irma Pletcher. He drove his first race the day before he turned 15 in 1946 at the Cassopolis, Michigan county fair, where in three heats with P.J. Volo he finished 2-2-1, his first win.
He graduated from Shipshewana High School in 1949 and served in the U.S. Army as a sergeant in Korea. Upon his return he resumed harness racing as his career and passion. Dwayne has won 1,477 races in his lifetime, including the Sportsman's Park Midwest Derby three times with Transient in 1966, Teffe in 1970 and Overcast in 1973. Chaw, 1972 Illinois Horse of the Year, was campaigned by Dwayne. Others in the long line of top horses he's handled include: Pacing Boy; Pepe Dancer; Shady Counsel; Right Honor; Galahad; Nemma Hanover; Sherry's Honor; H.D. Counsel; Shady Mile; Sluf; Tuit; and stakes winning Butter Up; Vieta; Miss Yankee Doodle and Perfect Illusion.
Dwayne was the leading driver at Maywood Park in 1958, and 8th in the National Rating in 1959. He was a member of the Illinois Harness Horseman's Association, the Indiana Standardbred Association and the United States Trotting Association. Dwayne raced in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky, New York, Pennsylvania and California. He mentored both of his sons, Steve and Jeff, who also made harness racing their life's work.
Dwayne is survived by his wife of 63 years, Areta, and two sons, Steve (Vickie) Pletcher and Jeff Pletcher, all of Shipshewana; a grandson, Brett (Amber) Pletcher, and three great-grandchildren, Ethan, Landon and Bailey Pletcher, all of Topeka; and a brother, Delmer Pletcher, of Howe.
He was preceded in death by his father, Lester; mother, Irma; and brother, Donald.
No services will be held.
Please send condolences to PO Box 6, Shipshewana, or donations to the Food and Clothes Basket in LaGrange in Dwayne's name. Online condolences may be sent at millerstewartfuneralhome.com.
Published on July 7, 2017