The Rev. Richard Ploth

The Rev. Richard Edward Ploth, formerly of Cutchogue, died Sept. 20 from complications following a stroke. Recently of Dover Plains, N.Y., he was a resident of The Grand nursing home in Pawling, N.Y., for the past two months. He was 81. 

“Dick” was born in Oceanside on Oct. 6, 1933, to Edward and Adelaide Combs Ploth. He graduated from Oceanside High School in 1951. He earned a bachelor’s degree in Latin and Hebrew from Wheaton (Ill.) College and a Masters of Divinity degree from Princeton Theological Seminary. Dick was ordained in the Presbyterian Church USA by the then Brooklyn-Nassau Presbytery on Long Island and began his many pastorates at Yaphank Presbyterian Church, followed by service to the Waverly (N.Y.) Presbyterian Church and then as executive presbyter for Northern New York Presbytery. He also worked as a management consultant for Clarkson University in Potsdam, N.Y., and served several small churches who were without a full-time pastor.

In 1992 he came to Long Island Presbytery as interim executive presbyter, and in 1994 began a string of pastorates, including the Presbyterian churches of East Moriches, Remsenberg, Sag Harbor and Setauket and the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship in Jamesport.

In 2006 he followed his wife, Lynda, to Ossining, N.Y., and Hudson River Presbytery, where she served as pastor of First Presbyterian Church, Ossining. During their nine years there, he served the Presbyterian churches in Scotchtown and Chester. He officially retired in 1998 but continued to work until his health failed him in 2013.

Dick served on many councils and committees of the larger church, on community boards and projects and was a sought-after keynote speaker. His wife said, “He was gifted with eloquence, intelligence, a deep sense of humor and the absurd, and held every audience captive with his pithy stories and his rich theological thinking.”

The Rev. Ploth was an active member of several Rotary Clubs over the years, including as president in the Wavery, Greenport and Ossining clubs. He had several types of pilot’s and instructor’s licenses, was an avid motorcyclist and a dedicated sailor.

In addition to Lynda, his wife of 33 years, he is survived by their son, Joel Clements; his children, John, Rick, Ivy Ann and Allan Ploth; his brother, David Ploth; seven grandchildren; one great-grandchild; and several cousins, nieces and nephews.

A memorial service will be held at 1 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 10, at First Presbyterian Church of Smithtown.