By Sallie James
POMPANO BEACH — She was a beloved newspaper editor and devoted mother and wife whose legacy of caring will long be remembered by people who loved her. Four years after being diagnosed with ovarian cancer, Marguerite “Margie” Malandro Plunkett died on Jan. 20, at home surrounded by family. She was 65.
As news of her death trickled out, her former colleagues expressed shock and grief on social media, remembering Margie for her good nature, media savvy and overwhelming kindness.
“Margie was such a nice person, the kind you instantly liked upon meeting. And a fine professional who did great work. She will be missed,” said Gail Bulfin, a former Sun Sentinel colleague.
“Always with a smile and a kind word,” wrote former Sun Sentinel colleague Bonnie DiPacio on Facebook. “Just heartbreaking,” added Willie Fernandez, also a former Sun Sentinel colleague. “One of the nicest people in the newsroom.”
Jaclyn Giovis Wolff called her “kind, patient, meticulous and cool under pressure.” Sun Sentinel alumna Ann Carter described Margie as “quiet, kind and capable, with a wicked sense of humor.”
“Sorry to hear this. She maintained a pleasant disposition amid all the chaos of putting out those fat business sections in the ’80s. … Margie was too young to go,” former colleague Jim McNair posted on Facebook.
Margie was born on Oct. 23, 1955, in Vineland, New Jersey, to Eugene Malandro and Gloria Passino Malandro.
From a young age she was always interested in facts. She earned a bachelor’s degree in communications from Rowan University in Glassboro, New Jersey, then landed a job on the Vineland Times Journal, her hometown paper. It was there she befriended Malinda Elek, another young reporter who became a lifelong friend. The two worked together years later on the Sun Sentinel in Fort Lauderdale.
Margie was always committed to her career in journalism, and took pride in her research and writing. Shortly after starting her job at the Vineland Times Journal, she was selected winner of the 1981 Times Graphics Property Award for her four-part series on “Nursing Homes.”
“She was a good listener. When she came into the room you just felt like smiling,” Elek said. “We were both pretty serious about writing and journalism. Outside of work, she was just there for you, always there to listen. One of those people you are not afraid to tell anything to. I am going to miss her forever.”
Her sister Jeannie Malandro said Margie had a passion for learning and never wavered when she set her mind to something. As a child, she taught herself to play piano.
When she decided to learn French, she excelled at it, Jeannie Malandro recalled.
Margie and her husband, Steve Plunkett, met at the Sun Sentinel in 1985. Their first date was at a French restaurant, in line with Margie’s interest in the French language. Five years later they married, on March 31, 1990, in Washington, D.C., where Margie was working on the Washington Times. They honeymooned in Paris.
Jeannie’s most vivid memory of her sister was Margie’s determination to make others feel special. She was an amazing hostess, who always watched out for others’ well-being.
“She wanted to let everyone know she cared about you and wanted to take care of you,” Jeannie said. She never forgot birthdays, made sure everyone on her Christmas list was taken care of, and would remember special facts that made you feel special, she recalled.
Mary Kate Leming, editor of The Coastal Star, where Margie worked for several years, said Margie’s capable presence was unforgettable.
“On top of being an excellent journalist, Margie was kind and a genuinely lovely person,” Leming said. “Town officials often confused us in the early days of the newspaper. We’d share a laugh at that. I was happy to be mistaken for someone as capable and kind as Margie.”
When Margie fell ill with cancer, she researched the disease instead of panicking, her sister said. Margie remained hopeful that medical innovations would help improve her life.
“She was a lifelong learner and fascinated with learning about new topics, which is what I think led her to journalism,” her sister said. “She would do research on that disease and it helped her to dispel a lot of her fear. She was always hopeful. She had such a good attitude I couldn’t believe it.”
She was close with her daughter, Kerianne, and was comforted by the one-on-one time she had with her in her last days, her sister said.
Margie’s career included stints at an array of newspapers: She worked at The Coastal Star as a reporter and editor on and off from 2011 to 2020; as communications director at Global Response from 2015-2020; business editor at the Tampa Tribune from 2013 to 2015; assistant business editor at the Sun Sentinel from 1999 to 2008; was business writer at the Palm Beach Post from 1993 to 1999; and business editor at the Washington Times from 1988 to 1993.
Margie will be remembered for her love of life, her charm and personality, devotion to family and friends, and her warm heart.
She is survived by her husband, Steven Plunkett; her daughter, Kerianne Plunkett, and her grandson, Judah Plunkett Gamble, of Pompano Beach; sisters Marilyn Shreckhise of Virginia, Jeannie Malandro of New Mexico, Gloria Malandro of New Jersey, Dianne Kobayashi of Vineland, and Trish Solomon of Colorado; along with many loving nieces, nephews, cousins and in-laws.
Margie’s family and friends will hold a celebration of her life at a later date.