1922 - 2021
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Dr. Godfrey Pernell, widely known for his political engagement and civic participation, died on March 8 at the age of 98. Born March 21, 1922, the oldest son of Russian immigrants, Dr. Pernell was the quintessential first-generation success story. Growing up in Chicago in a family of modest means, he had an active and inquisitive mind and developed a life-long thirst for knowledge. He was interested in everything, but his passion was science.
During World War II, he practiced dentistry as a navy lieutenant. After the war, he traveled to southern California, where he met his wife of 58 years, Beverly Furst. They built their home in Rolling Hills, a place they both loved, raised a family, and were active in social and civic life. Dr. Pernell was a member of the Rolling Hills City Council and served multiple terms as mayor of the city.
A life-long progressive and supporter of labor unions, in 1954,
Dr. Pernell created the first pre-paid dental program in the country, providing affordable dental care to union workers. The company he founded, Dental Health Services, is headquartered in Long Beach,
California. He had no tolerance for racial injustice. In the 1950's
he won the Urban League award for the example he set with his multiethnic dental office.
He was a model of how to live a full and active life. He never stopped learning and trying new things. He enjoyed traveling, scuba diving, rare fruit, and cacti gardening. He was, among other things, an entrepreneur, a metal sculptor, pilot, restaurant owner, and amateur geologist. He read two newspapers a day and kept his mind challenged with Sudoku and crossword puzzles.
After he retired in his nineties, he helped create a local preschool at the Pacific Unitarian Church. He enjoyed spending time at his second home in Palm Springs, where he had a wide circle of friends. He was a mentor to many and generous with those in need. He had a great sense of humor and asked everyone he met for their best joke in exchange for one of his own. He would end a conversation with, "Do good stuff." A motto he lived by.
Godfrey was preceded in death by his beloved wife, Beverly, his daughter Deanne and sister Charlotte. He is survived by his sons, Gary, Wayne, Jeff Pernell, his daughters-in-law, Wilhemina, Shannon, Melissa, Jan, and Stephanie, his sister Estelle, his brother Marvin, eleven grandchildren, and five great-grandchildren.
Donations may be made to www.fridaysforfuture.org so others may have the opportunity to live as long and meaningful a life as Godfrey Pernell.
A memorial tribute recording is available at pacificunitarian.org

To Plant Memorial Trees in memory, please visit our Sympathy Store.
Published in Palos Verdes Peninsula News on Mar. 25, 2021.
12:00 PM
Pacific Unitarian Church
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13 entries
March 22, 2021
Godfrey first reached out to me in 1990 when I was elected to the Palos Verdes Estates city council (subsequently serving for 25 years including 4 terms as mayor). I was a “newbie” and always treasured his sage advice as an experienced statesman and leader.
In 2001 I became principal of Rancho del Mar HS, located within the City of Rolling Hills. Godfrey took a keen interest in the school and students and attended graduation every year.
Godfrey and I had a wonderful relationship and a friendship over many years! Although my name is “Rosemary”, Godfrey fondly called me, “Rosie”. He will be missed!
Rosemary Humohrey
March 22, 2021
Godfrey was one a great man. I feel fortunate to have been able to know him, to be called his friend, and to share time with him. He was smart, funny, insightful, and a role model to many. He will be missed greatly. R.I.P. Godfrey.
Brent Humber
March 21, 2021
I had the pleasure of working with Dr.P for about 7 years. He was always engaged with an active and curious outlook on life, a thrist for knowledge. RIP,
Michael Fenton
Michael Fenton
March 20, 2021
Dr. P, I'm so sorry to hear of your father's passing. Losing parents is tough. It looks like your dad had a life very well lived and I celebrate him with you.

Sincerely, Catherine Brown
Catherine Brown
March 19, 2021
I'm sorry for your loss. R.I.P. Dr. Godfrey Pernell you always be in my Heart ♥
Jenny Vanderzee
Significant Other
March 19, 2021
Dr. "P" sending you and your family my condolences and best wishes. Your father was a truly special man who had a life well-lived. May his memory be a blessing.
Lisa Singer
March 18, 2021
Wayne, I am so sorry to hear about the death of your dad. Oh my goodness, he did lead a full life. I loved his story and if everyone was just a little bit like your dad, what a great world this would be. You and your family are in my thoughts and prayers, and may your dad rest in peace.
Jill Mazur
March 18, 2021
Truly Sorry for the loss. Our prayers are with you all during this time.
Rob Shauger
March 18, 2021
Very sorry for your loss Dr. P, wishing you and your family all the best.
Daniel Kelleher
March 18, 2021
I had the Honor and Privilege of meeting Dr. Pernell late last year. Though it was only a brief introduction, his smile and presence lit up the room. May you rest in peace, and I want to personally thank you for bringing your son, Dr. Wayne Pernell into my life and my community. I know that he will carry your legacy every day of his life. God bless.
Layne Frank
March 18, 2021
Sending the Pernell family love and light during this time of loss.
Tricia Brouk
March 18, 2021
Sincere condolences to family of Dr. "P" from member of V50 community.
Just reading your father's obituary and learning of his magnificent life and impact on others is so inspiring.

May his life be a blessing.

Kindest regards,
Jerold Dornbush
Jerold Dornbush
March 18, 2021
May the memory of your dearly departed father forever be in your heart and mind. When it brings a tear to your eye, may his memory bring a smile as well.
Harvey Feinberg
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