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James Malcolm Pennebaker


1919 - 2014 | Obituary Condolences
James Malcolm Pennebaker Obituary
James Malcolm Pennebaker, 94, died Friday, May 30, 2014. Funeral: 1 p.m. Friday, June 6, in Fleming Chapel at Broadway Baptist Church. Interment: Greenwood Memorial Park. Memorials: Should friends desire, memorials may be given to the Broadway Baptist Church Capital Campaign or the Broadway Baptist Church Endowment Fund, 305 W. Broadway Ave., Fort Worth, Texas 76104; Fort Worth Youth Orchestra, 4401 Trail Lake Drive, Fort Worth, Texas 76109; or a . James M. Pennebaker was born in Fort Worth on Sept. 30, 1919, to Thomas Samuel Pennebaker and Beula Belle Roberts Pennebaker. He grew up on the near south side of Fort Worth, spending many of his summers on the Pennebaker and Roberts farms in Columbus, Ky., on the banks of the Mississippi River. He graduated from Central High School, now Paschal, in 1937. In June 1942, while attending Texas A&M University, he enlisted in the U.S. Navy through a program that allowed him to finish his degree in mechanical engineering and then report for active duty. He graduated Jan. 22, 1943. He was commissioned an ensign in the Navy in June 1943, and was assigned to duty on a new destroyer in the Pacific, the USS Morrison. On May 4, 1945, the USS Morrison was sunk in action 50 miles north of Okinawa by two Japanese kamikaze aircraft with 154 crew members killed in action. Lt. j.g. Pennebaker was awarded the Bronze Star for his service on the Morrison, where he took control of the gun battery when the gunnery officer was mortally wounded. He then refused to leave the water after the ship sank until all the injured were in life rafts. He completed his wartime service as engineering officer on the USS Saufley in February 1946. He married Betty Boyd Roberts, also from Fort Worth, in Cheyenne, Wyo., on July 24, 1945, while he was home on survivor leave and en route from Philadelphia to San Francisco for assignment to the Saufley. They were married for 68 years. A member of Broadway Baptist Church since 1952, he was a deacon emeritus and served on various committees, including the pastoral search committee and the finance committee. He oversaw the refurbishing of the preschool after the hail storm of 1995. In February 1946, Jim went to work for Texas Electric Service Co. in Fort Worth. He worked first at the North Main generating plant, was superintendent of the Handley generating plant and the Graham generating plant, and was appointed superintendent of power over all Texas plants in 1963. He finished his career at TESCO in the marketing and customer service department. He retired from Texas Electric in 1984. Jim had many interests. As a young man he played the clarinet. He was a woodworker, a clockmaker and a photographer. He mastered the computer quickly and spent many hours on the phone coaching less computer-savvy family members. He loved his family, his church, his country and Texas A&M. He was a man of dignity, courage and honor. He will be deeply missed. He was preceded in death by his parents; his wife, Betty; and his sister, Nancy Pennebaker Doyle. Survivors: Daughter, Priscilla Lovett and her husband, Bob; daughter, Beverly Murphy and her husband, Tim; son, James Boyd Pennebaker and his wife, Debbi; sister, Lillian Pennebaker Webb; grandchildren, Lee Anne Wilde, Robert M. Lovett, Steffani Starry, Jeremy Pennebaker, Alex Pennebaker and Celest Blair; five great-granddaughters; and much-loved nieces and nephews.
Published in Star-Telegram on June 4, 2014
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