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James William Penny

September 22, 1928 ~ May 15, 2018 (age 89)
James William Penny went home to his heavenly Father on Tuesday, May 15, 2018. William was born in his parents’ home, the first of ten children, on September 22, 1928, to John and Myrtle Penny of Southport, Florida. William would not have an “easy” life, but his entire life was dedicated to the Lord he loved and the family he cherished. A man of great humbleness and compassion, he made numerous sacrifices over his lifetime to bring blessings to his beloved family and friends. Well known for his ability to fix just about anything with a motor or engine, he was often found in his shop maintaining/repairing the vehicles and boat motors of family and friends. Countless nieces and nephews knew to take any vehicle they were considering for purchase to Uncle William for the “once over” before buying. William began his career as a gifted mechanic and driver with the Panama City Transit System (city buses) as a teenager. During the summer, William and another driver would take two of the buses to Miami “on loan” to that city for the busy tourist season. He served as a driver and mechanic maintaining the two buses. After doing this for some time, the owner of the buses decided an actual driver’s license might come in handy for young William. William proudly served in the U. S. Army from 1955 to 1957. He loved sharing fascinating stories of his time spent beyond the Arctic Circle and in Yuma, Arizona, while testing tanks and other heavy equipment/artillery in extreme temperatures. After an Honorable Discharge, he worked at the Navy Coastal Systems Station on Panama City Beach until 1960. He then transferred to the Marine Corps Logistics Base in Albany, Georgia. After their retirements in 1987, he and his wife, Fern, returned to Southport to re-establish their home on Cavanaugh Point on Fanning Bayou where his wife was born. They had grown up fishing, swimming, and boating with their families and friends on the little bayou that separated their birthplaces.

William’s strong faith and servant’s heart led him to serve two congregations as a devoted Deacon. First, at Southside Baptist Church of Albany, Georgia, for twelve years and, after retirement and returning home, at First Baptist Church of Southport until the summer of 2001. Hiland Park Baptist became their church home on July 8, 2001, where William continued his service in the choir and on the Building and Grounds Committee. William’s strong work ethic and willingness to serve provided far-reaching support for the churches he loved. Visitation, cleaning/maintaining buildings and grounds, driving the church bus for various outings and activities; wherever there was a need, William could be found. Fern and he comprised a “dynamic duo” of service for the furthering of their Father’s Kingdom.

This gentle soul is preceded in death by his first wife, Agnes Bush, of Alford, Florida, who he lovingly cared for as leukemia took her from him and his little daughter; his parents; his brother, Donald Penny, and sister, Doris Tatum.

Waiting here, cherishing the memory of this treasured life, is his beloved wife of 63 years, Fern Cavanaugh Penny; his three children, Brenda Humphries (Willard), Dory Sitte (Dave), and Andy Penny (Leitha). His adored grandchildren Shannen Fields (Jimmy), Melanie Cothren (Mike), Cory Proctor (Jamie), Will Sitte (Allison), Kala Glass (Scott), and Brent Penny (Leah). Great-grandchildren Jay and Mallory Fields; Mills and Marlee Cothren; Devin, Drew, and Luke Guy; Adelyn Proctor, Asher Penny, and Kolton Glass. He is also survived by his brothers Johnny Penny (Laura), Jack Penny (Bobbi), and Glen Penny (Sheila); along with his sisters Edna Tatum, Ruthie Miller (Billy), Linda Davis (Clark), Ann Walsingham (Nolan); and Sharon Penny Calhoun (widow of his brother, Donald); and numerous nephews, nieces, and extended family.
The family would like to express their sincere gratitude to Lance, Janet, Helen, and Lisa of Tender Touch Home Health Care. Sincere appreciation also goes to Bonnie Barrett who became a loving friend while providing professional in-home support for both William and Fern.

All services will be held at Kent-Forest Lawn Funeral Home with visitation from 5 to 7 p.m., Friday, May 18; followed by services Saturday, May 19, at 10 a.m. with Dr. Steven Kyle officiating. Interment will be held at the Old Southport Cemetery.

The family requests that, in lieu of flowers, donations be made to the Hiland Park Baptist Church Building Fund or Youth/Choir Department.

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