Ellen Joy Plein

November 10, 1925February 19, 2021

Dr. Joy Plein. Joy passed away peacefully at Virginia Mason Hospital on February 19, 2021. For 48 years, Joy was the heart of the UW School of Pharmacy. Everyone who knew her felt her deep commitment to excellence in education, practice and research. She forever changed the field of geriatric pharmacy practice, and her passion for her work and her students has inspired generations of pharmacists and researchers.

Joy earned both a master's and a doctoral degree at the University of Washington. In 1952, she married Dr. Elmer Plein, a professor in the School of Pharmacy, beginning a partnership that would create an entirely new field of pharmacy research and practice. One of the School's first female faculty members, Joy was appointed to a full-time position as associate professor in 1972 and was promoted to full professor in 1974. She continued to teach nursing students fundamentals of pharmacotherapeutics until 1985.

Joy is widely credited for creating the momentum for senior-care pharmacy in Washington State at a time when there were few pharmacists who were geriatricians, and few resources to advocate for older patients. Along with Elmer, Joy developed the first course to be offered in nursing home pharmacy in 1973, which led to the establishment of the Certificate Program In Geriatric Pharmacy Practice in 1986.

The Pleins established three endowed funds to carry on their pioneering legacy in education, research and practice. In 2015, Joy was awarded the Pharmacy Alumni Association's Lifetime Achievement Award for her exemplary service in the field of pharmacy, and in 2017 she was selected as the recipient of the UW-UWRA Distinguished Retiree Excellence in Community Service award.

Joy's dedication to geriatric pharmacy and practice, and her expertise in the field, culminated with the creation of the Plein Center for Geriatrics in 2016. Today, the Plein center is a global leader in transformative pharmacy research, education and outreach, and has expanded our role as a leader in promoting healthy aging.

Joy was an educator, an innovator and a pioneer, but most importantly, she was a dear friend and champion of the School. We will strive to honor her kindness, passion and humanity, both in our profession, and in our daily lives.

On behalf of our entire community, I extend our heartfelt and deepest condolences to her family, beloved students and colleagues. I am deeply grateful to Karan and Jim Dawson, Beth Devine and many others who looked after and cared for Joy these past few months.

In memory of Joy, we have provided a link below for those interested in supporting Joy's passions and impact at the School of Pharmacy – students, faculty and research.

Joy's family has established an email at which they can receive condolences:


No public services are scheduled at this time. Receive a notification when services are updated.


Ellen Joy Plein

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JS McCune

February 26, 2021

Joy will be missed. She was a wonderful person, who truly did all that she could to help others. This is especially shown by her lifetime commitment to help older adults by not only providing superb patient care but also training generations of health care providers regarding medication management for older adults. Our thoughts are with her true friends and family members.