Ira Lev Plotkin

Former Durango Mayor Ira Lev Plotkin died from complications related to lung cancer Sunday, May 20, 2012, in Denver. He was 71.

A native of Washington, D.C., he was born to Harry and Esther Plotkin on March 25, 1941. Mr. Plotkin graduated from Landon High School in 1960, Rochester University in 1964, and earned his doctorate in Eastern studies from the University of Michigan.

Mr. Plotkin taught in the Ohio and California University systems before joining the faculty at Fort Lewis College in 1975. He was a full professor in Japanese and Chinese histories until 1990. He later served as dean of International Studies at Regis University in Denver.

In 1980, he married Kay Corbitt in Denver.

“Ira and Kay delighted in the births of their sons, Noah Benjamin and Joshua Robert, and proudly watched them grow into young men,” his family said.

In 1983, Mr. Plotkin served on Durango City Council and occupied the office of mayor later in his term. He also served on the board of directors of Anti-Defamation League and the Colorado Humanities Commission. Mr. Plotkin was a member of the Rotary Club. He served on both the board and the Ritual Committee at Congregation Rodef Shalom.

“Ira was an avid golfer and a notorious and accomplished prankster whose personality and love of life filled every room he ever entered,” his family said. “Ira heroically fought cancer twice, thereby earning the second half of his life, which he cherished and lived fully. He will always serve as a source of strength, compassion and humor for all who knew and loved him.”

Mr. Plotkin is survived by his wife of 32 years, Kay; and his sons Noah Plotkin of Denver and Josh Plotkin of Los Angeles.

A funeral will be held at 11 a.m. Wednesday, May 23, 2012, at Congregation Rodef Shalom, 450 S. Kearney St., in Denver. Burial will take place afterward at Mount Nebo Cemetery.

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids—Judy Wilkenfeld Award Fund, www.tobaccofreekids.org; or to the charity of one’s choice.