When a person is truly dedicated to a cause it is glaringly obvious. They show
unwavering commitment to a particular task or purpose.
This describes the relationship between Louis Plummer and education.
“Mr. Plummer’s whole life was the school…I never knew a school man who was so dedicated to his school,” recalls Elvin A. Ames, a teacher and supervisor of maintenance who worked at Fullerton Union High School at the same time as Plummer.
The Ohio native was born in a small farm town in the northwest part of the state in 1883. Author Sharon Dymmel said that before Plummer was 26 years old, he had graduated from Ohio Northern University with two bachelor’s degrees in Science and Commercial Science.
He also worked for five years in the public schooling system and moved to California to pursue a career in education management.
In 1909, Plummer was appointed head of the Commerce Department at Fullerton Union High School. This marked the beginning of the legacy of Louis Plummer.
After several productive years with the high school, Plummer and the high school principal, Delbert Brunton, embarked on a journey to establish the first community college in Fullerton, Diane Oestreich said.
In her book, “The History of Fullerton Union High School” Diane Oestreich said many around campus loved Plummer and recognized his efforts.
In the early 1990s, two-year colleges were a new phenomenon with multi-faceted benefits. Some of the colleges were designed to offer job-training programs, some for specific racial groups and or women, yet others a less expensive alternative to a four-year university.
Dymmel said Brunton and Plummer, however, envisioned a post-secondary school environment that would offer high school graduates, who would otherwise be unable to afford a four-year college, a cheaper, yet comparable alternative.
After being approved by the Orange County’s governing board, Fullerton’s junior college held its first class in 1913 with 26 freshmen and 10 available classes, Dymmel said.
For the next 23 years, the school held classes at the Fullerton Union High School before purchasing a 14-acre plot of land beside the high school in 1936.
In 1934, Plummer, now superintendent of Fullerton Union High and Fullerton Junior College, worked tirelessly to see Fullerton Junior College expand and become its own entity.
Between 1950-1956, Fullerton Junior College grew to an 83-acre campus with several buildings and classrooms.
After over 30 years of service in the educational sector, there is not doubt that Louis E. Plummer dedicated his life to creating strong educational institutions in Orange County. The effects of his contributions can still be felt today.
As a tribute to the public service of Plummer, the city built an intricately designed four-story auditorium in 1930.
It was designed by architect Carlton M. Winslow and constructed for $295,000 in the style of Spanish Colonial Revival with Italian Renaissance design elements.
Today the auditorium is an important center for entertainment and community. It is used regularly by Fullerton Union High School, Fullerton College and Orange County.
The next time you walk past the blush pink elaborate structure at the intersection of Chapman Avenue and Lemon Street, remember the countless contributions of a great man: Louis Plummer.