Obituary for Margaret A. Plastino - East Idaho News
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Margaret A. Plastino

November 21st, 1917 - October 15th, 2021

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Margaret A. Plastino passed away on Friday, October 15, 2021, in Idaho Falls, Idaho, one month shy of her 104th birthday. Margaret lived a rewarding and healthy life and, as one of her attending nurses stated, was one of the few people to die of advanced age. Her great and gentle heart simply ran down.

Margaret was born November 21, 1917, in Tooele City, Utah, to Edwin St. Clair of Salt Lake City, Utah, the child of Scottish immigrant parents; and Evelyn Borrow of Bouth, England. Three of her siblings died in infancy or childhood. Margaret was close to and helped care for her younger brother Marion all their lives.

As a very young child, Margaret’s family moved to Shelley, Idaho, and she happily remained in Southeast Idaho all her life. Margaret’s father was a sheepherder, and the family joined him in the sheep camps in the summer in the hills above the Snake River Plain, enjoying the beauty of that land and the serenity of a family joyfully being together.

Margaret excelled at school and especially loved history. But she always had a keen interest in nursing, and would bandage her dolls to care for them. A local doctor said nursing was a great and noble profession, and encouraged her in that pursuit.

Margaret moved to Idaho Falls and graduated from the LDS Hospital School of Nursing in 1939. Her story is not only a story of a very dedicated registered nurse, but Margaret was a seminal figure in the history of nursing in Idaho. She was a “career girl” in the profession of nursing before the term was created. After her family, nursing was her greatest love.

After working for a few years at the LDS Hospital, she was hired in 1942, as a young and single woman, by the Bonneville County Commissioners in Idaho Falls to be County Nurse, a role she served in for 10 years. At that time, the County Nurse was the entirety of the local public health system.

Margaret would often go out in the middle of the night in a southeastern Idaho blizzard, along with the Sheriff, to render medical aid to those in need. In the early days of her career, antibiotics were not available to the general public and she said her job was often to offer comfort care and “a shoulder to cry on” to patients. She said her duty was one of social work, as well as nursing. Margaret had great professional skill, a quiet and steady strength, and a compassionate and humble heart that she offered to so many.

When Medicare was passed, Margaret became the first home health nurse in southeastern Idaho in 1966, and served with expertise, compassion, and dedication for twenty years. She was one of the few nurses then that had experience in home health care. She loved that job and her elderly patients, and finally retired from District 7 Health & Welfare.

With a career in nursing that parallels the history of nursing in Idaho, Margaret also distributed the polio vaccine to school children in the 1960s, volunteered as camp nurse at the local 4-H camps, and dispensed medication and tetanus shots when the Teton Dam broke in 1976.

After her retirement in 1985, Margaret continued to volunteer in the nursing field for another 25 years at Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center.

Margaret was the oldest registered nurse in the State of Idaho. She was honored as such in 2019 by her fellow nurses statewide, and her nursing license was reinstated to emeritus status by the Idaho Board of Nursing as an honor to her.

On May 22, 1948, Margaret married Ben J. Plastino, a Ucon, Idaho, native. They met at the County Courthouse when Margaret was County Nurse and Ben was a reporter on the city beat with the Idaho Falls Post Register. Ben rose to become the Political Editor and Executive Editor of the Post Register for decades, and they were a wonderful and complementary team. Their roots in the community and the State of Idaho ran deep, and their professional and volunteer commitments were extensive. They were very dedicated to Idaho Falls, and always felt it important to contribute to their community’s success. They both loved Idaho greatly.

They had three daughters: Donna, Diane, and Paula. Margaret described her marriage as a very happy one.

Ben and Margaret loved to dance, and, when they weren’t on their usual Saturday night movie date, they were dancing. They traveled extensively, and loved seeing the World together. They visited England where Margaret had her roots, and the toe of Italy from where Ben’s family immigrated to southeastern Idaho. They both enjoyed politics and current events, and Margaret retained that active interest and an intellectual curiosity all her life. She was a prolific reader, as was Ben.

Margaret had a quiet and steady joy of life. She was always a good and kind, gentle and gracious soul, qualities that are too often lacking in today’s world. Those close to her are so grateful for her contributions to her family and friends, for her steadfast dedication to the community of Idaho Falls and the State of Idaho at large, and for the quiet dignity she showed as a way to live one’s life with honor and integrity. Margaret did not demand a lot of life. Instead, she always seemed to privately determine, “What does life ask of me?”, and humbly arise to the occasion.

Margaret was preceded in death by her greatly beloved husband, Ben J. Plastino; her parents Edwin and Evelyn Borrow St. Clair; and her siblings Elizabeth Josephine, Hugh, James, and Marion; her son-in-law Jack Parsley and her granddaughter Gina Parsley Helbling. She is survived by her daughters Donna Parsley of Kendrick, Idaho; Diane Plastino Graves and her husband Ron Graves of Boise and McCall, Idaho; Paula Colborn and her husband Von of Sandy, Utah. She had five grandchildren: Ben and Aaron Colborn, Ric and Jim Parsley, and Jenifer Parsley Curry; and great and great-great grandchildren.

Services for Margaret will be held at 1:00 p.m., Friday, October 22, 2021, at Trinity United Methodist Church, Idaho Falls. A viewing will precede the service at the Church at 12:00 p.m. Masks and extensive social distancing are required.

The service will be live-streamed at:

Contributions in Margaret’s memory would be welcomed at the Idaho Community Foundation, 210 West State Street, Boise, Idaho 83702, for the Margaret A. Plastino Memorial Scholarship for Idaho Nurses.

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