Happy (Hap) Plaga passed away Sunday, Jan. 5, 2014. He was born to Eugene and Thelma Olivia Gunderson Plaga in Price, Utah, on Jan. 19, 1932. Growing up in Helper along with his siblings Betty Mascaro, Gean Arthur Plaga and Joanne Bowns he attended school in Helper and was on the wrestling and football teams at Carbon High School.
In 1951, Happy joined the U.S. Air Force and served in Japan during the Korean War. On returning from service, he was employed in Civil Service in southern California, supplying personal flight equipment to the early test pilots of the space program such as Chuck Yeager and Iven Kincheloe. Happy also became a survival instructor for pilots, leading training sessions into the desert. It was not unusual to find caged snakes, lizards, scorpions, or badgers in his office at Edwards Air Force Base. Later, Happy worked there as a facilities supervisor for Northrup Grumman Corporation during the construction of the Stealth Bomber.
Happy loved the out-of-doors, hunting, and fishing. He loved cooking for large parties and family, and true to his name, Happy brought joy to others. In retirement, he spent half the year living on the coast of Mexico near Ensenada, fishing with his Mexican friends. For the last six years, he lived near his daughters in Redding, Calif.
Happy is survived by his sister, Joanne and her husband Terry Bowns, and her son, Gary Bowns, of Salt Lake City; daughter, Tamra Plaga, and her husband, Steven Heagney, Redding, California; daughter, Sherry Plaga and her husband, Mark Stopher, Redding, Calif. and her son, Ramsey Stopher, San Diego, Calif. and her daughter, Jessica Stopher, San Francisco, Calif.; nephew, Kirk Mascaro, and his wife, Jodi, Helper, as well as other nieces, nephews, great nieces, and nephews.
Happy will be buried in Helper where a Celebration of Life is planned for this spring. His generous heart and smile brightened the lives of those who knew and loved him, and these blessings will stay with us forever.
Arrangements entrusted to Mitchell Funeral Home of Price where friends are welcome to share memories of Happy online at www.mitchellfuneralhome.net .