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Dwayne Pletcher, 85, dies
Friday, July 07, 2017 - by the USTA Communications Department

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Columbus, OH --- Dwayne Pletcher, 85, of Shipshewana passed away on Wednesday (July 5) at 11:45 p.m. at Parkview LaGrange Hospital, LaGrange, Ind. Pletcher was one of the nation’s top drivers and developers of colts and a member of one of Chicago’s most famous harness racing families.

Pletcher was born in Goshen on July 27, 1931, to Lester and Irma Pletcher. He drove his first race the day before he turned 15 in 1946 at the Cassopolis, Mich. county fair, where in three heats with P.J. Volo he finished 2-2-1, his first win. He graduated from Shipshewana High School in 1949 and served in the U.S. Army as a sergeant in Korea. Upon his return he resumed harness racing as his career and passion. 

Pletcher has won 1,477 races in his lifetime, including the Sportsman’s Park Midwest Derby three times with Transient in 1966, Teffe in 1970 and Overcast in 1973. Chaw, 1972 Illinois Horse of the Year, was campaigned by him. Others in the long line of top horses he’s handled include, Pacing Boy, Pepe Dancer, Shady Counsel, Right Honor, Galahad, Nemma Hanover, Sherry’s Honor, H.D. Counsel, Shady Mile, Sluf, Tuit and stakes winning Butter Up, Vieta, Miss Yankee Doodle and Perfect Illusion.

He earned more just under $5 million during his driving career since statistics have been tabulated and $1.4 million as a conditioner.

Pletcher was the leading driver at Maywood Park in 1958, and eigth in the National Rating in 1959. He was a member of the Illinois Harness Horseman’s Association, the Indiana Standardbred Association and the United States Trotting Association. He raced in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky, New York, Pennsylvania and California.

He mentored both of his sons, Steve and Jeff, who also made harness racing their life’s work. 

Pletcher was preceded in death by his father Lester, mother Irma and brother Donald. He is survived by his wife of 63 years, Areta, two sons Steve (Vickie) Pletcher and Jeff Pletcher, all of Shipshewana, grandson Brett (Amber) Pletcher and great grandchildren, Ethan, Landon and Bailey Pletcher of Topeka and brother Delmer Pletcher of Howe.

No services will be held.

Please send condolences to PO Box 6, Shipshewana, Ind. 46565 or donations to the Food and Clothes Basket in LaGrange, Ind. in Pletcher's name. Online condolences may be sent at

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