Memorial services are scheduled for Thomas Durward Pennington Jr., 73, who died Monday, March 4, 2013. Services will be held Thursday, March 7, 2013, at 4 p.m. at the Gainesville First United Methodist Church. Dr. Terry Walton and Dr. D.B. Shelnutt will officiate. The family will receive friends on Wednesday, March 6, from 5-8 p.m. at Little & Davenport, 355 Dawsonville Highway, Gainesville, Ga.
Durward was born in Albany, Ga., and graduated from Albany High School where he was a four-sport letterman and is in the Albany Sports Hall of Fame. He went to the University of Georgia on a football scholarship and kicked the winning point to secure the SEC title for Georgia in 1959. In 1961, he kicked a 52-yard field goal that was a UGA record for 13 years. After graduation Durward was drafted by the Buffalo Bills and played two years for the Dallas Texans.
In 1965, Durward came to Gainesville High School as an assistant football coach where he was affectionately known as "Coach P." After eight years he left GHS for a business position with his father-in-law, Charles Thurmond, but Durward never gave up coaching. He continued as a volunteer coach for GHS athletics throughout his life and had a positive influence on generations of young men. One former student comments, "I first met Coach P. in seventh grade but he has coached me the rest of my life." Another student says, "He was not only a coach but a compassionate friend who did so much for so many behind the scenes." "Durward never turned his back on any athlete who needed words of encouragement or financial help," according to Wayne Vickery, longtime friend and Gainesville High Athletic Director. Because of his unselfish dedication to young people Durward received the Kiwanis Youth Service Award in 2002. He was also awarded an honorary diploma from Gainesville High School for his unwavering support through the years. Also, Durward has continued to be a loyal University of Georgia supporter by endowing the Durward and Betsy Pennington Scholarship for football players.
Throughout his life Durward was a devoted family man, husband, father and grandfather. His calm demeanor and love supported his family through happy and sad times. He enjoyed being surrounded by his grandchildren, especially at the beach. He took great pleasure watching his grandchildren participate in sports. He treasured his friends and was loved by many.
Durward was preceded in death by his parents, Thomas Durward Pennington Sr., and Irene Davenport Pennington; his brother, Milton Jackson Pennington; and his grandson, Tyler Wahl Safarriyeh. He is survived by his loving wife of 51 years, Betsy Thurmond Pennington; son and daughter-in-law, Thomas Durward Pennington III and Melissa Miller Pennington; daughter and son-in-law, Susan Pennington Rosetti and Marcus Rosetti; daughter and son-in-law, Carrie Pennington Safarriyeh and Jeff Safarriyeh; grandchildren, Thomas Durward Pennington IV, Sophie Rosetti, Grant Rosetti, Olivia Rosetti, Brandon Safarriyeh, Ella Safarriyeh, Blake Safarriyeh and Emma Safarriyeh; sister, Becky Pennington Knight; and nieces and nephews; Ladd Murphy, Lady Murphy Harcrow, Cristen Pennington Everett and Jackson Pennington.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made in Durward's memory to Tyler's Way Foundation c/o Keyworth Bank, 11655 Medlock Bridge Road, Johns Creek, GA 30097, or online at www.tylersway.com.
Those wishing to make online condolences may do so at www.littledavenport.com.
Published by gainesvilletimes.com on Mar. 6, 2013.