Miss Lorna B. Penny
Miss Lorna B. Penny, 81, died peacefully on July 10, 2019, at Absolut Care of Westfield, NY. Lorna, an English teacher at Fredonia High School for twenty-six years, imbued many of her students with pride in being one of “Miss Penny’s scholars.” Wit, creativity and style energized the lessons she taught in her elegantly decorated classroom.
Lorna’s career began in her birthplace, Montreal, Quebec. The third daughter of George and Stella Penny, her early education led to a commercial career as a secretary where she developed many skills which richly enhanced her teaching.
A bold move from her secretarial position with the Canadian National Railway in Montreal to one with Crocker Anglo Bank in San Francisco, CA, inspired a lifelong love for that “city by the sea.” Enjoying the intellectual stimulation of a class in creative writing, Lorna wrote to sister Barbara and brother-in-law Bob Hesse of her interest in pursuing a college degree through night school. Offering a more expeditious route to a diploma, the Hesses suggested Lorna come to Fredonia, live with their family and attend college to become an English teacher. In her senior year, Lorna received a student teaching placement with Margaret Ruckman, initiating a deep and long-lived friendship with her and later with “The Jolly Buckshot Babes:” Joan Caruso, Marion Fellows, Addie Marsh, Margaret Ruckman, Jan Sullivan and Mary Woodcock.
A highlight of Miss Penny’s career came when she was recognized by the New York State English Council with their Teacher of Excellence Award for Superior Performance in the Teaching of Literature. Also many Fredonia Central teachers and students fondly remember the morning of March 14, 1980, when beloved principal Tom Heary invited Lorna to lead the morning Pledge of Allegiance as a newly sworn in American citizen. Though proud of her US citizenship, Miss Penny never lost her “Eh?” her British spellings or her love for Canada. A talented and gracious hostess in her home, Lorna happily filled the role of hospitality chair for several Middle States visitations to her school district, adding warmth and welcome for visiting teams. Further, summers found her catering events at Chautauqua Institution, a role she embraced with elan.
Retiring from teaching in 1992, Lorna redirected her energies. A tireless volunteer at the Westfield Community Kitchen, she also served as their board secretary. Many hours were devoted to escorting elderly friends to and from medical appointments. An inveterate knitter, Lorna donated many blankets and prayer shawls to Circle of Love, Hospice and other charitable organizations. Further, her trademark colorful knitted washcloths were gifted to friends, caregivers and those in need of some cheer.
A delight in Lorna’s life came from the annual awarding of the Lorna B. Penny Scholarship to a student who exhibited a love of language and literature. Funding the recognition through NCCF, she enjoyed the challenge of choosing a worthy recipient. Lorna’s beautiful, descriptive and funny letters written in her elegant longhand were treasures to any fortunate enough to receive them.
Lorna was predeceased by her parents and sisters Joan McDonald and Barbara Hesse. She is survived by her partner of almost fifty years, Joan Mascaro Caruso, four nieces and four nephews, their children and grandchildren, all of whom brought great joy to her life.
Lorna left us, confident that Heaven has to be a combination of San Francisco, CA, Tofino, British Columbia and Longboat Key, FL.
At Miss Penny’s request, there will be no visitation or funeral service. Ever the teacher, Lorna has donated her body to the University at Buffalo Anatomical Gift Program. A Celebration of Life will be held at the convenience of the family. Donations to honor Lorna may be sent to the Westfield Community Kitchen, 101 E. Main Street, Westfield, NY 14787, Lake Shore Center for the Arts, 49 S. Portage Street, Westfield, NY 14787 or Patterson Library, 40 S. Portage St., Westfield, NY 14787.
Lorna’s family wishes to express their gratitude to the dedicated, compassionate and loving caregivers at Absolut and from Hospice. Further thanks go to the Westfield Fire Department Emergency Squad.