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Diabetes is a disease that can be managed and Marty Plombon spent most of her nursing career teaching people how to do it.

As one of the first diabetes educators in the Twin Cities, Plombon worked for nearly 30 years at North Memorial Health Hospital in Robbinsdale where she taught thousands how to inject insulin shots, eat properly and lead healthy lives.

“She took the fear out of it,” said Carrie Boe, who sought Plombon’s advice in the early 1990s after being diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes as a 20-something. “You are scared and worried, but she was a messenger of hope.”

Plombon contracted COVID-19 in early July at St. Therese of New Hope where she was temporarily living while undergoing occupational and physical therapy following health problems. She died July 31 at 85.

Born in St. Cloud, Plombon graduated from Cathedral High School where she played violin in the school orchestra and enjoyed playing volleyball, said her son Jeff, of Minnetonka. She earned a degree from St. Cloud Hospital’s nursing school.

Plombon entered the nursing field partly because she was inspired by a great aunt and “she didn’t want to be a teacher,” her son said. She turned out to be both.

Plombon worked as a nurse in Minnesota, California and Arizona before she arrived at North Memorial in the 1960s. She trained medical student residents and interns and mentored other nurses.

Later, she found her calling, helping people take control of their diabetes. She taught classes at North Memorial and regularly participated in health education days at New Hope Elementary School. Her research, “Teaching Plan for Amputation,” was published in a 1983 edition of Diabetes Educator.

“She had a passion for diabetes education,” said Sondra Weinzierl, a longtime colleague. “She wanted to empower people to be independent in their care of this complex chronic disease. She was always saying, ‘You can do this. You can manage this.’ She helped countless people manage their condition.”

Plombon had a strong ability to build rapport with patients, families and doctors, Weinzierl said.

Plombon retired in 1995. She enjoyed traveling, going to the theater and creating needlepoint work that many people admired, her son said.

In addition to her son Jeff, Plombon is survived by another son, Tim, of New Hope; sisters Florence Corrigan, of Redwood, Calif., and Julie Hevron, of Portland, Ore., and brother Jim, of Mesa, Ariz.