Jo Ellen Ploeger, 69, died on May 14 after a long struggle with cancer. She was born in Huntington, W. Virginia to the late Durward and Doris Nichols. She had worked as a physical therapy technician until her health forced her into retirement.
The Metropolitan Community Church of Detroit in Ferndale was a focal point in Ploeger’s life. She had served as a deacon in the church and was involved in all church activities. She and Karen Dillaman, her life partner of 33 years, founded the Walking Together Ministry of MCC Detroit, a support group to assist people facing life-threatening illness.
“She was Christian in the most positive sense, with faith as the cornerstone of her being. Faith was so much a natural part of her that she didn’t have to broadcast it,” wrote longtime friend Ellen Simmons. “Her Cherokee background added another layer to her spiritual makeup. If Jo was part of ceremonies such as Holy Unions, she would include that element of spirituality in a deeply touching way.”
Ploeger is survived by Dillaman, children Stephen and Richard Ploeger, grandchildren Jaqueline and Wyatt and siblings Pam Boucher, Robert Nichols and Laura Nichols.
See also Reflections on Jo Ellen Ploeger by Ellen Simmons and commemorative artwork by Charles Alexander below.