Tiina Pleake-Tamm


Ingrid Tiina Pleake-Tamm, 69, died April 2, 2021 at home with family. Born July 5, 1951 in Bismarck, ND, Tiina was the youngest of four children to parents Peeter Tamm and Marta Oja Tamm. Tiina’s father was the lead engineer in Tartu, Estonia, who was slated for Russian “replacement” during the communist takeover in the 1940s; the Tamms claimed to be farmhands and were able to flee to America in 1949.

In 4th grade, Tiina and her dearest friends formed a “Turtle Club” that remained close throughout adulthood, with reunions for the Turtles, their Turtle-Tots, and the newest generation, Turtle-Teenies. Tiina blossomed during the 1960s and 1970s, teaching yoga in Canada, making candles in Haight-Ashbury, operating a phone switchboard, and other odd jobs. By the 1970s, she had returned to Bismarck to be close to her widowed mother and was doing accounting for the Bismarck School system when she heard the click of cowboy boots coming down the hall. She thought to herself, “that’s the man for me;” that man turned out to be Dewey L. Pleake, who had been sent to audit the school system. They fell in love, living first in Denver and later in Rockville, MD where Tiina kept books for US Sen. Smathers. They were married in 1975 and started their first large-scale construction adventure, building a 40-ft trimaran sailboat in their backyard. They moved to Southern Maryland in 1985 to construct an ecologically friendly house and raise their two children, Peeter and Amalia.

Tiina was a devoted mother, scoutmaster, roomparent, costume-sewer, choir singer, baker, and avid gardener. She went back to work as the 231 bridgetender in Barstow for several years before settling into full gardening mode after her kids left home. Tiina was the main caregiver for her own mother, and although she did not like nursing, she devotedly cared for her husband for 20 years as he battled a fatal illness. Her daughter’s favourite memory of her mom is singing cowboy songs on the rooftops in Zanzibar; her son admiringly remembers her patience in explaining chemistry concepts again and again until he could master his homework.

Tiina passed away in the early morning hours surrounded by her children and pets. She is predeceased by her parents and husband. She leaves behind her children, Peeter and Amalia Pleake-Tamm, and her siblings: Andres, Tonis, and Linda Tamm. She will be buried in Bismarck with her family on April 8, 2021. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to International Rescue Committee (https://www.rescue.org/) or the Washington Opera Society  (http://www.washingtonoperasociety.org/donate).

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