William M. Plonk, Jr., MD

Class Year




Posted on: August 26, 2022

Triple Crown hiker and Chief Medical Officer North Carolina of Aledade, Dr. William McGuire Plonk, Jr., died June 28, 2022, in Durham. He passed in his sleep of unknown causes.

Born October 19, 1961, in Columbia, S.C., to Rev. William and Nancy Moore Plonk, he was raised on the Eastern Shore of Virginia. He attended Woodberry Forest Academy in Virginia and went to Princeton University, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in biology with a minor in the history of science. Plonk graduated from medical school at the University of Virginia. He married Beth Ann Hartman on October 19, 1991, while completing a residency at the University of Missouri Columbia, after which he held numerous positions as a geriatric specialist. Among his contributions was determining how to convert morphine dosages to methadone for palliative care.

Adventurous, curious, empathic, and a lifelong learner, Plonk had a strong moral compass. In 2002 he completed a hike of the entire Appalachian Trail, followed later by the Pacific Crest Trail and Continental Divide Trail. This made him one of only 525 people who had completed the Triple Crown of Hiking, totaling 7,900 miles, as of 2021. He ran cross country in college and later in three marathons.

Plonk is survived by his wife and three children: John McGuire Plonk of Philadelphia, Pa., Natalie Hartman Plonk of Brooklyn, N.Y., and Wilson Moore Plonk of New London, Conn.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Princeton University’s Outdoor Action Program.