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While not professors, coaches or graduates of JMU, the late Robert Plecker and his wife Frances have often been described as among JMU's most loyal fans. Shenandoah Valley natives, the Pleckers met, married, raised three daughters and owned four successful businesses over a span of 50-plus years. They made a point of giving back to their hometown community, supporting a number of institutions, including JMU. Frances and Bob both played basketball in high school, and both enjoyed golf and encouraged their daughters to be active in athletics. Bob was a longtime member of the Duke Club and also served on its board. The strength of their commitment to higher education and their loyalty to Madison was evidenced by their $2 million gift toward the construction of a $9.8 million facility that houses the university's football and athletics-related academic areas. "Athletics makes a university education possible for a number of people who would not otherwise get a college education," Bob said. On Sept. 3, 2004, Frances and her family were on hand to dedicate the Robert and Frances Plecker Athletic Performance Center, which serves as a tool for recruitment, a spotlight for economic development and a statement of JMU's commitment to the partnership between athletics and academics. They knew Bob was cheering.
"Earning a lot of money isn't what's important. It's what you do with it after you earn it." -- Bob Plecker