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Col. William "Bill" Penly

Obituary Condolences

Col. William "Bill" Penly Obituary
SHERMAN - Funeral services for Col. William John Penly will be held at 10 a.m. Friday, May 3 at West Hill Cemetery. Rev. Neill Morgan of the Covenant Presbyterian Church will officiate with services under the direction of Waldo Funeral Home. Military Honors will be conducted by the Fort Hood Honor Guard. A reception will follow at Pecan Point. Mr. Penly, 100, passed away Sunday, April 28 at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital of Plano.

Bill was born April 15, 1913 in Williamsburg, Iowa. He would smile as he remembered growing up in the rural town with his brothers and sister, working at a local dairy and growing and selling onions to help pay his way through college. He often spoke of the large corn fields, grape vineyards and living near the president of John Deere. "It was a good childhood," Penly would fondly remember.

Mr. Penly graduated from Iowa State University in 1938 as a civil engineer. While there he was also a member of the ROTC and upon graduation, joined the United States Army Corp of Engineers as an officer. It was his career for 25 years. On Oct. 6, 1940, Bill and Elaine "Suzy" Sabin were married in Waterloo, Iowa. From 1942 until 1944, he served with the 911th Combat Engineer Battalion, building airfields in New Caledonia and Guadalcanal. After two years in Los Alamos, New Mexico and earning a master's degree from Iowa State, Penly directed the construction of four dams resulting in four lakes (Grapevine, Lewisville, Benbrook, and Lavon) around the Dallas-Fort Worth Area, working in that area from 1947 until 1950. He then spent two years in England and then the rest of his service at the Pentagon in Washington, D.C. Atomic weapons research, testing and storage was his main focus and his duties required extensive travel in the United States and Europe. "Los Alamos was a very isolated but interesting place," recalled Penly. "We were surrounded by scientists and we learned a lot of interesting things, but we (the military officers) were often pushed to the back. That was a little hard to get used to."

After retirement in 1964, Penly became the plant engineer for Marquett Cement Company in Chicago, Ill. He later moved to Brentwood, Tennessee where he worked as a city engineer. Due to health reasons, he and his wife Suzy, moved to Sherman in 2008 to be near relatives.

Col. Penly is survived one daughter, Suzanne Penly of Godfrey, Ill.; two granddaughters, Anya Penly and Kristina Penly, both of St. Louis, Mo.; great-grandson, William Miskel of St. Louis; daughter-in-law, Linda Penly Miskel of Hermann, Mo.; five nephews, John Brennan of Sherman, Don Penly of Madison, Wis., David Penly of White, Ga., John Penly of Falfurrias, Texas and Richard Penly of Vero Beach, Fla.; and nine nieces, Karen Good of Sherman, Texas, Patricia Matthews of Sugarland, Texas, Rebecca Herrington of Austin, Texas, Jane Jones of Coralville, Iowa, Ellen Jeffries of Colorado Springs, Colo., Judy Russell of Minneapolis, Minn., Mary Anderson of Shorewood, Minn., LoAnn Dixon, of New Elm, Texas and R'Arla Muennink of New Braunfels, Texas. He was preceded in death by his wife of 71 years, Elaine "Suzy" Penly; one son William J. Penly, II; parents, John and Ina (Goldsberry) Penly; three brothers, Gilbert, Don, and Richard; and one sister, Mary Brennan Sage.

The family would like to thank the staff at Pecan Point for all their loving care and the congregation of Covenant Presbyterian for their wonderful support and friendship for Bill and Suzy. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to Beverly Farms, a non-profit home for mentally challenged individuals (where his daughter, Suzanne resides) at Beverly Farms, 6301 Humbert Rd., Godfrey, IL 62035.

The register book can be signed online at
Published in The Herald Democrat on May 1, 2013
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