Milward-Man O’ War Funeral Home
Gerald Lee Pennington, born March 6, 1933, died Saturday, Nov. 24, 2012, at the age of 79 after a brief illness.
He is survived by two daughters, Abby Lee Pennington and Amy Pennington Virgin, both of Lexington; a wonderful son-in-law, Gil Virgin; two cherished grandsons, Kyle Hayden Virgin and Kevin Lee Virgin; a brother, Richard E. (Sheila) Pennington; and a brother-in-law, Donald M. McDonald, both of Ashland. Also to be made are special mention of his first wife and friend, Doris Shelton Pennington Hendeles, mother of his two daughters; many loving cousins, nieces and nephews; and his best friend and business partner, T. Raymond Suplee.
Jerry was a graduate of Ashland High School. He was in the Ashland High School band and marched in the Harry Truman Inaugural Parade. He enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1953, and served in the Merchant Marines during the Korean Conflict. He returned to Ashland, and with his brother, Richard, became co-owner and vice president of Pennco Inc., a successful aluminum window and door business, a position he held until 1979. He was co-owner of Ponderosa Golf Course in Cannonsburg. He started several mini-storage warehouse companies, including The Storage Center in Cannonsburg. He then relocated to Sarasota, Fla., creating Dollar Mini-Storage with branches in St. Petersburg and Tampa, Fla. He became owner of LEA International, an electronic surge suppression technology company. He went on to pursue other business ventures in Florida, mostly in the finance and banking industry, including First Venice Savings and Loan, First of America Bank, Presidential Bank and LandMark Bank of Florida.
In 1996, he was instrumental with a group of former shipmates in the restoration and preservation of the SS American Victory Ship and later became director emeritus of the SS American Victory Maritime Museum now located in Tampa Bay.
He had a great sense of humor and outgoing personality, and was often considered “the life of the party.” He was a man of honor, great integrity and class. He was a most loving father and grandfather. He was a naturalist and loved the outdoors. He became an accomplished aviator, sailor and motorcyclist. Music was a passion. He was an accomplished guitar, banjo, violin, trumpet and trombone player. He was an automobile enthusiast and enjoyed antique car restoration. He traveled the world. He was an avid golfer and participated in several Pro-Am golf tournaments and was a previous member of The Oaks Club in Sarasota and the Highlands Falls Country Club in Highlands, N.C.
He was a very philanthropic person who contributed to many charitable organizations, including the Highlands-Cashiers Hospital in Highlands, the American Museum of Natural History, the Nature Conservancy, the Dauphin Island Audubon Bird Sanctuary, the Alzheimer’s Association, the American Victory Maritime Museum, the Ashby Foundation, Mission Share (Cali, Colombia) and the Highlands Bolivian Mission.
Funeral services will be at 11 a.m. Wednesday at Milward – Man O’ War, 1509 Trent Blvd. in Lexington, with a reception to follow.
Visitation will be from 5 to 8 p.m. today at the funeral home. Burial will be in Rose Hill Burial Park in Ashland at 3:30 p.m. Wednesday.
Contributions are suggested to the Alzheimer’s Association or the Sanders Brown Research Program.
Condolences may be sent to milwardfuneral.com.