Richard and Marvolene Pennington: Morenci Citizens of the Year

Written by David Green.

penningtons.citizenSubmitted by the Pennington family for the annual Citizen of the Year award sponsored by the Morenci Area Historical Society:

Richard Pennington and Marvolene Schoonover were next-door neighbors during high school. As soon as they graduated, they married and Marvolene when to work at an insurance office in Adrian while Richard joined his parents, Clair and Theola Pennington, as partners in the family grocery store on Weston Road. Marvolene started with wages of $40 a week while Richard made $10 per week as a 1/3 partner. Soon they started selling 100 pound cylinders of propane to their grocery customers. Richard likes to joke that they started in the propane business with two customers: his dad and himself. 

That was in 1953 and they decided to sell the grocery store and focus solely on the propane business. The office was moved several times in the Morenci area—the former Wayne Broach and May’s Body shop on Weston Road, the current location of Bell’s Tax Service and the Morenci Bible Fellowship Church were all once the office of Pennington Appliance & Bottled Gas. Around 1970, they ventured out with Ken and Betty Richardson and converted the old A&P store into the Village Inn Restaurant. They soon found their time and interests were spread too thin and so a short time later they sold their half of the restaurant to the Richardsons.  

Richard’s father passed away early in life in 1967 so Richard had his hands full until his five sons came of age in the late 70’s. The business had grown to the point where Richard understood that he did not care for the office work. His sons were interested in partnering with him and eventually Richard and Marvolene sold the company to their sons, Mark, Gary, Terry, Keith and Dean in the early 1980s. With a little more flexibility in his time, Richard was able to work at what he loved best—building and fabricating projects right alongside his sons as they grew the company into seven locations and 14,000 customers.

Richard and Marvolene have never left Morenci, (even as snowbirds) preferring instead to enjoy the personal relationships of a close community and the blessings of their family nearby. Richard served a term on city council and they immersed themselves in service to the community through the church and by mentoring teenagers for more than 20 years. It is still a great source of joy when one of these “teenagers” looks them up and tells them of the impact that they had on their lives.

Marvolene began teaching adult Bible studies in 1980 and continues to touch peoples lives in this way still today. Richard is famous as a "fix-it" man and is unafraid to tackle just about any project. Whether caring for his neighbors and family, working at the church or helping out at the library, Richard never seems to slow down.

The Penningtons have always considered service to others as a mission for their lives. They freely give of their time and resources to others in need, modeling Christ-like traits that are easy to spot. They believe that their propane business and their lives have been blessed so that they can be a blessing to others. A lifetime of living this philosophy is now being replicated through their children and grandchildren today.

  • Cecil
    THE MAYOR—Cecil Schoonover poses with a collection of garden gnomes that mysteriously arrive and disappear from his property. Along with the gnomes, someone created the sign stating that he is the Mayor of Gnomesville. He hasn’t yet tracked down the people involved in the prank, but he’s having a good time with the mystery.
  • Front.rest
    TAKE A BREAK—Last Wednesday’s session of Stair District Library’s Summer Reading Program ended with a quiet period in a class presented by yoga instructor Melany Gladieux of Toledo. Children learned a variety of yoga poses in the main room at the library, then finished off the session relaxing. Additional photos are on page 7. Area children are invited to visit the library today when the Michigan Science Center presents a flight program at 11 a.m. and roller coasters at 1 p.m.
  • Front.batter
    THE DERBY—Tyler “Smallpox” Flakne of Minnesota’s Home Run League All-Stars goes for the fence Friday night during the National Wiffle League Association’s home run derby in Morenci. This year the wiffleball national tournament moved from Dublin, Ohio, to Morenci’s Wakefield Park. During the derby, competitors had two minutes to hit as many home runs as possible. The winner this year finished with 21. See page 6 and 7 for additional photos.
  • Front.green Screen
    OUT OF THIS WORLD—Elizabeth McFadden and Elise Christle pose in front of the green screen as VolunTeen Noah Gilson makes them appear as though they are standing on the Moon. More photos from the Stair District Library’s NASA @ My Library program are on page 12.
  • Front.snake
    Lannis Smith of the Leslie Science and Nature Center in Ann Arbor shows off a python last week at Stair District Library's Summer Reading Program.
  • Front.fireworks
    FIREWORKS erupt Saturday night over Morenci’s Wakefield Park during the waning hours of the Town and Country Festival. Additional festival photos are inside.
  • Pipeline Spread
    LINED UP—Lengths of pipe were put in place last week along the route of the Rover natural gas pipeline that will stretch from Defiance, Ohio, to Ontario, Canada. Topsoil was removed before the pipes were laid out. The 42-inch diameter pipeline is scheduled for completion in November.
  • Front.rock Study
    ROCKHOUNDS—From the left, Joseph McCullough, Sean Pagett and Jonathan McCullough peer through hand lenses to study rocks. The project is part of Morenci Elementary School’s summer camp that continues into August.

Weekly newspaper serving SE Michigan and NW Ohio - State Line Observer ©2006-2017