Greensburg man leaves behind legacy in mushroom club
John Plischke often found himself in nature either hunting or fishing — but mainly surrounded by mushrooms.
As founding member and past president of the Western Pennsylvania Mushroom Club, Plischke worked to bring other mushroom fanatics together as one of the first fungus-based organizations in the area, but not without the help of his family.
“He gave mushroom programs with his son all over Pennsylvania,” his wife Rebecca Plischke said. “Locally, he did Ohiopyle and Keystone State Park.”
And his work eventually became a hit in his immediate family, with his wife quickly gaining interest and his son and daughter-in-law now integral members.
John R. Plischke died Dec. 31, 2018, leaving behind a legacy that has grown to over 1,000 followers on Facebook. He was 76.
Born Sept. 25, 1942, in Greensburg, he was the son of late Dr. John Ruff and Evelyn McCurdy Plischke.
At age 6, Plischke ventured out into Hempfield with his father, grandfather and uncle, learning to identify several edible mushrooms. From that point on, Plischke’s interest grew to where he could find, identify and photograph thousands of species.
Finally, Plischke founded the club in 2000.
“He was a driving force in the club, trying to promote it in many ways,” said Dick Dougall, a past president. “With his help there, I think the club became a strong participant in the national mushroom scene.”
But his work didn’t end with mushrooms.
His passion for environmentalism eventually lead him to become part of the Study Advisory Committee of the Federal Water Pollution Control Act, where he worked on stream improvement projects aimed at helping to keep fish alive, Rebecca Plischke said.
An avid fan of family genealogy, Plischke traveled the state to work with several historical societies, and he “was always amused at the family stories about his ancestors,” Rebecca Plischke said.
After graduating from Greensburg Salem High School and attending Otterbein College in Westerville, Ohio, Plischke started work at Westinghouse Airbrake as a machinist and eventually became a salesman for Weyerhaeuser Co., a real-estate trust company.
He was also past city of Greensburg chairman, District 9 chairman and managed several local campaigns.
In addition to his wife, Plischke is survived by son John R. Plischke III and his wife, Kim, of Greensburg, and daughter Sheryl Kustra of Clearwater, Fla.
Friends were received at Barnhart Funeral Home in Greensburg on Friday. A service will be held at the funeral home, 505 E. Pittsburgh St., at 11 a.m. Saturday.
Megan Tomasic is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Megan at 724-850-1203, email@example.com or via Twitter @MeganTomasic.