Sunday, December 09, 2007

Rachel Plosser LeDuc

I learned last week that my best friend senior year of high school, Rachel Plosser LeDuc, passed away in September. How did I find out? Well, every once in awhile I Google my name, my kids names, and the names of friends that I've lost touch with. All I could find were links to her obituary. I paid the $2 and read it, hoping to find details that would prove it wasn't my friend. The photo erased those hopes. I didn't learn much more than that she was survived by her husband, son, mom and brother. (At least it gave me a lead on her brother. Maybe I'll get the nerve up to send him an email.) What seems to be eating me up is that it doesn't say what happened. Was she in a car accident? Was she ill? I have no right to these answers, but the questions haunt me.

It bothers me that I couldn't find hide nor hair of her until this. So, for our other classmates and her other friends, I'm posting the wonderful things that I remember about her so that she will be more than just an obituary on the web. Maybe that's weird, but I feel a need to do it.

The first thing that I remember about our senior year was the "Class of '83 Hymn" that Rachel wrote. I don't know why, but it had been on my mind before I Googled her name. She would tell people that we co-wrote it, but all I did was clean up the meter in 1 line. I think I was more like an editor if anything at all. I will take the credit for being the one to memorize it though. I don't think she liked it as much as I did. Here it is in all its glory:

Disco sucks not rock and roll,
All the punks are out of control.
Ralph Lauren and 501's
Sexy girls and guys with buns.
'69 and '83
Our minds are sex-filled, you and me.
Scamming, swooping, picking up,
Some get pregnant in pick-up trucks.
We'll be remembered, wait and see,
We're the way-rad Class of '83!

[Her original line that I cleaned up was "Some get pregnant in the back of pick-up trucks." And the reference to '69 was because we both drove cars made in that year, don't be nasty.]

I still eat ranch dressing on turkey sandwiches sometimes. She showed me that with Thanksgiving leftovers.

Thinking about Thanksgiving leads me to think about the trip to take her ex-boyfriend down to L.A. on Thanksgiving weekend. I had permission to go with her so that she wouldn't have to drive back alone. I didn't have permission to take my 17-year-old self to Tijuana with them. But I couldn't very well stay at his friends' house in Apple Valley without them, could I? It was an interesting few hours. All we did was walk around some and then get back in line to come back across the border. Crossing back was when I realized that at 17 I shouldn't have crossed over in the first place. They looked us over in a growling kind of way and let us in. Frankly, I think we spent more time in line than we did there. But I can say I've been there.

One day we went out to a local ice skating rink. It was probably during Christmas break since it was definitely winter -- a very cold and rainy day. When we got in her car to go home we found that her wipers didn't work. So we tied on some fishing line and opened up the wing windows (this was a VW Beetle) and I would pull right then she would pull left. It worked well enough to get us home, but it was cold with the wings open and our hands were really sore from the fishing line.

We had ROTC freshman boys that we would take off-campus for lunch. We felt so powerful because we were seniors and those boys were so impressed with us. We also had a closed-campus school, but the security guard knew us both (I was in choir and Rachel in student government) and would just wave to us as we drove off. I don't know if he ever checked, but we did always come back for afternoon classes.

With our friend Ian we would go to a kind-of private poetry workshop that we had set up with a poet (C.B. Davis) that had come to a 6-week program in our sophomore English class. I remember shutting my hand in Ian's car door and I remember a field trip to the Fuller Paint poles. I remember walking single-file behind C.B. on a hot day as he read us Pablo Neruda's "Ode to the Watermelon" and led us around the old Fire Chief's house, ending at the refrigerator where he had a cold juicy watermelon waiting for us. But I don't remember a single thing that any of us wrote. I think it was more of letting C.B. inspire us and pontificate (but in a good way) at us, than workshopping our poems. I don't think I would have had the guts to do it without Rachel.

Those are some good things that came to mind. There are some more, and they are good memories too, but more about me than her. In a very real way Rachel helped me find myself that year. I wouldn't be who I am without all the things I did with her. I'm really sorry that I lost touch with her. If I find that she went to the reunions that I've skipped I'll probably beat myself up about it, but she wasn't at the one that I did go to. I miss her and now I can't tell her. So here is one of my attempts at sending that message out to the universe. I hope she gets the message.

I received an email this morning (23 Dec 2007) letting me know that Rachel died of a brain tumor. The person who contacted me said I could ask questions, but I'm not sure what to ask. However, if one of our classmates finds this, I wanted the new information and the idea of a source here for them to find as well.


  1. Interestingly enough..I was googling friends when I got notification that you had commented on my blog. Thought I'd pop over and visit.

    Sorry about your friend.....

  2. Rachel was my master teacher about 8 years ago. I had lost touch with her and was very sad to hear of her passing. Thank you so much for writing about her. She is someone who I think very highly of her. You write of ranch dressing on turkey sandwiches, I had never tasted thousand island dressing until I met her. There are some things that I do now as a teacher that I learned from her.

  3. OMG...Rachel was my best friend in high school. we had both moved to Maryland from California and found one another. I called her Roach; she called me niechy...but after the philosopher. She moved back to California and I lost her along the way. I named my eldest daughter after her. I am sad that this is how I found her.

  4. Denise,

    I'd love it if you'd send me an email since there doesn't seem to be an email address linked to your name. I called her Roach too. And sophomore year I was totally obsessed with Nietzsche (and Jim Morrison - ha!), so I get that reference too. I'd love to chat a bit. I'm guessing that you knew Sterling?

  5. OMG...I just spoke to Sterling today for the first time in about 18 yrs. Email me at

  6. Rachel Plosser LeDuc taught my 7th grade English class. It was through her that I first came to know King Lear, Karl Marx and the true meaning of "Bye bye, Ms. American Pie." She inspired and supported me like no teacher I have had since.

    On the last day of 7th grade, Rachel gave me a journal I could write in. On the first page she wrote me a note with some very special words I haven't forgotten. Her impact on my life will never be forgotten.

    The world is a little colder now I know she is gone.

  7. Francisco -
    Thanks for taking the time to comment. I love that people are sharing wonderful memories of Rachel here. It makes this a warm loving place and I'm glad that even now Rachel is introducing me to new people.

  8. Wow! I am shocked and greatly saddened....Mrs. LeDuc was my 7th grade teacher as well, I always look forward to the day I would go back to Chico and walk back into her classroom........The paradox of today.....having reconnected with a friend who i grew up with, being delivered this terrible news of our teacher. Mrs. LeDuc was a ray of light, she was a real person, she embodied what a teacher is, the passion for her students and their success is what i will always will remember...I will never have the opportunity to walk back into her classroom , but I am forever grateful to have been able to walk into her classroom.
    Forever her pupil......Bijan

    I would greatly appreciate if some one could give me an email I could send my condolences to her email is

  9. Bijan, if I had an email I would gladly give it to you, but I don't. You can try Googling her brother, Ted Plosser, to see if you can find something that way. It was over 2 years ago that I posted this and I had found someone with his name working either in Finland or Iceland, I can't remember which now. Sorry I don't have more contact info myself.

  10. Ms. Rachel LeDuc was my son's 8th grade teacher. I remember her with great fondness because she helped make one of the most successful academic years of his school life. He had transferred from another school into Chico Junior High. The transition was not an easy one because he had experienced the loss of a beloved uncle and once again the loss of friends from a previous school. Ms. LeDuc inspired my son to embrace a new perspective of learning and expressing himself through writing. I remember her kind words at the parent/teacher conference; she had a deep understanding of my son's personality, and it was clear that she would not let him slip through any cracks. Her passion for teaching and her innate quality for understanding diverse thinkers made her an exemplary teacher. I am saddened to hear of Ms. Leduc's passing, but I am forever joyful that she played such a significant role in shaping my son's young mind and instilling in him a sense of self worth. S.E.M.D

  11. pinkccpro -- It's so wonderful to read this! Everything in my post was about senior year, but I also knew Rachel sophomore year (she was in Maryland for junior year). Sophomore year was when we started writing that led to things like "The Class of '83 Hymn". Our English teacher required us to journal, quotes on the left-hand pages & original writing on the right-hand, 10 pages per month. We also participated in California Poets in the Schools; C. B. Davis was our poet for 10 weeks and Rachel & I (along with another friend, Ian) continued to meet with him after that. I think that Rachel, Ian and CB were the first people that I ever shared my poems with. Very personal, but we trusted each other.

    I so glad to hear that she continued to be an inspiration and a trustworthy place for people to share their writing. That can be so hard at that age with so much to say and never feeling understood. Thank you for sharing your memories.

  12. Just a small note to pay respect to Ms.Rachel Plosser Leduc!
    Peace and Light through the universe today and always!


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