James Plante

james plante with his wife

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Kathy and Jim Plante were married for 52 years. It was a second marriage for both, making a blended family of six children, now all adults in their late 50s and early 60s. “We wanted the kids to feel equally important, to be one family,” said Kathy. “We enjoyed our life together, and are very close.”

They lived in the country outside Northfield, where there were plenty of outdoor things to do. Gardening, riding around on motorcycles and scooters, traipsing around with other kids in the area. “Jim was the head mechanic,” Kathy remembers. “He could fix just about anything with a motor.”

Kathy worked as a nurse’s aide in nursing homes and at Northfield Hospital, before taking over a print shop. Jim had a career in the printed circuit world, first with companies in the Twin Cities, and then with Sheldahl. Eventually he left that work and joined Kathy running the print shop — posters, flyers, business cards, letterhead, programs etc. Jim became the pressman, and they worked together on the bookkeeping and operations. They made a good team. After closing the print shop, Jim worked for Fareway Foods as a pressman and Kathy worked at Northfield Public Schools in the human resources office.

Over the years, Jim managed serious health issues — congestive heart failure and bypass surgery, diabetes and kidney failure, and eventually dialysis and renal failure. He was in the hospital and very weak when dialysis began but he was determined to go home. He worked with the therapists to gain enough strength to return home. Jim was clear that he wanted to be at home through the end.

“The kids all rallied around him,” recalls Kathy. “I wanted them to be involved and feel a part of the whole process, and they were. Everyone had a chance to spend time with him and assure him that the decision was his, to know when he was done struggling. Our extended family and friends were welcome anytime and there were many stories and memories shared.”

“Because I’d worked as a nurse’s aide, I was very familiar with what was going on. You never forget what you learned in those experiences,” Kathy said. “It was helpful for me to know how this would go and what I would need to do.”

They contacted the Northfield Hospital hospice program and worked with Kayla Zandstra, a nurse in the program. “She called or visited every day, always asking what we needed, bringing Jim’s medications, arranging for massage therapy, or having a chaplain visit. We knew it was a 24-hour-a-day service, and that if we needed something we could always call.”

In the end, Jim’s hospice experience was short, only eleven days, all at home. “One of the things I appreciate the most is that what we needed was available right here in Northfield. It made me feel comfortable with the hospice care. Our team was wonderful - calm and respectful and answered all our questions. I am grateful that all of our family was able to be part of the experience.”

After Jim’s death, the family made a memorial gift to the Northfield Hospital Foundation in honor of the hospice program. “We are extremely grateful for the support and care from the excellent team we worked with during the final days of my husband, Jim’s life.”

Help provide essential support for Hospice patients and their families by making a tax-deductible contribution to the Northfield Hospital Foundation.

Learn more about the Northfield Hospital Foundation.