Whether traveling to Thailand in the '60s or participating in a study to refine Parkinson's treatment, Georgia Plumadore grabbed hold of every chance she got.

"My mom didn't want to waste any opportunities," said Charlie Plumadore. If she needed to do something, she would find a way to get it done, he said.

Plumadore, 77, of Oak Park, Minn., died at home on Aug. 1 from complications of Parkinson's disease.

She was born in 1942 near Bock, Minn., the oldest child of Geraldine and John Norbert Bergstrom. The family moved to a bigger farm in nearby Estes Brook when she was 10.

Life on a dairy farm taught her to work hard, appreciate nature, and have a practical outlook, her son said.

Plumadore started school in a one-room schoolhouse with her mother as the teacher.

"No kindergarten was available for us country children so first grade was our first school experience," she wrote of her early years. "I had 47 'brothers and sisters' when I was in school."

She participated in 4-H and marching band, graduating from high school at age 16. Itching to leave home, she attended Trinity College in Chicago.

After graduating, she received a teaching license in Illinois but began preparing to visit Thailand through a program called the International Farm Youth Exchange. At a time when few people traveled abroad, she stayed with various families, observing farming methods and writing articles for newspapers back home.

"I think she was very changed by the experience," Charlie Plumadore said.

Plumadore's only sibling and younger brother, John Norbert Jr., died at 19 in a car accident. She carried the tragedy with her, using it as motivation to live life to the fullest.

In her 20s, she began teaching elementary school in the Anoka-Hennepin district. She eventually joined a gym, often venturing over to the men's side to lift heavier weights.

She met her future husband, John Plumadore, while working out. He said he was impressed by both her beauty and her ability to leg press 400 pounds.

The pair married after three months, the amount of time it took to sew her own wedding dress.

"I couldn't have asked for a better partner," John Plumadore said. "She was an all-around unique and wonderful human being."

After spending years traveling, the couple had two children, Charlie and Brianne, and raised them in Anoka and later in Coon Rapids.

Plumadore spent evenings helping out with her children's activities, which included sports, music and cat shows. She also kept a daily diary, documented her family's genealogy and took up various crafts, making holiday decorations out of old jewelry or candy.

"She didn't like to, as they say, 'chill out,' " said Brianne Plumadore.

Plumadore retired from teaching in 1999. Five years later, she was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease.

After moving back to her family farm, she took over a Parkinson's support group in St. Cloud, treating the group like her classroom.

She prepared binders filled with Parkinson's research for new members and arranged speakers for each session, said daughter-in-law Genevieve Plumadore.

After undergoing deep brain stimulation for Parkinson's, she participated in a University of Minnesota study to help researchers refine the surgery. Upon her death, she donated her body to Parkinson's research.

Plumadore is survived by her husband, daughter, son and daughter-in-law, and grandson Harrison, all of Oak Park.