David M. Penney, 54, of North Hollywood, California, passed away at home, after a long battle with cancer, on Saturday, September 17, 2011. Family and friends were with him as was his beloved calico, Patches.
He was born on December 15, 1956 in North Haverhill, NH, the first son of the late Robert M. Penney and Rita Knapp Penney and spent his childhood in Groveton, NH. He graduated from Groveton High School in 1974 where he was an honor student and active participant in the Drama Club, holding leading roles in many school productions. He received numerous awards and scholarships when he graduated from high school, including the Groveton Papers Company First Community Citizenship Award.
David attended Plymouth State College and was involved with the Plymouth Players, taking on many interesting acting roles in productions such as The Man Who Came to Dinner and Jesus Christ, Superstar. After graduating Summa Cum Laude from Plymouth with his BA in Education, David moved to the Los Angeles area with thoughts of becoming a professional actor. He was in several productions with the CSUDH Theater Group, including Taming of the Shrew and Peter Pan.
A fond memory of David's early years in Los Angeles came from former roommate Jonathan Wyman, who said, ""When David and I lived in LA his first year, we had a neighbor's dog that would bark constantly and David would make faces at it to make it bark more. My former girlfriend and I would laugh for hours with him!""
His real calling was to become a teacher and he taught in the Los Angeles Unified School District for 28 years, retiring in January 2011. He received numerous school and community awards for his years of teaching. He started as a substitute teacher at various locations in 1980 and then taught at Compton Avenue Elementary School for 4 years.
David went on to teach at Hooper Avenue Elementary School from 1985-1994. Hundreds of students were educated and nurtured by David. His co-workers noted he went way beyond the job of teaching. Besides home visits and counseling families, through fundraising activities he was able to take his students on trips that they will always remember--from San Francisco, Sacramento, Washington, DC, or a local beach, museum, or baseball game. Fellow teacher and friend, Terry South, shared that Hooper Elementary had a breakfast once a month put on by the teachers of a different grade level each month. David's group always set the bar for excellence in culinary skill and creativity. From a country breakfast with rotating wagon wheels or fresh omelets made as you walk through the line by tuxedo wearing teacher cooks, no group wanted to be the month after David's breakfast. During David's last year at Hooper, he coordinated a Shakespeare festival. His class performed Romeo and Juliet in period costumes, many of which he sewed in his class room. David brought in a professional to choreograph the sword fights and staging. Due to his professionalism and exceptional teaching skills, David was frequently called upon to give workshops for fellow Hooper staff members. From 1994 to 2000, David taught at Hazeltine Avenue Elementary School in Van Nuys.
His last teaching position was at Canterbury Elementary/Magnet School, teaching 4th grade. Principal Graciela Rodriguez shared that David was a beloved educator from the time he started in 2000 until he retired in 2011. He was a dedicated, warm, caring teacher and mentor who will be dearly missed by students, parents and staff of the Canterbury Family.
Over the years, David also privately tutored many students who remained in contact with him even after they had long since graduated and started families of their own.
David has been an active member at the Spiritualist Center since 1998. He became President in November of 2004 and a Certified Healer and Medium on September 24, 2006. He was a much-loved leader, co-worker and friend, and will be greatly missed in the physical world.
David is survived by his mother, Rita Knapp Penney, of Littleton, New Hampshire, sister Sylvia Wesley, her husband Maurice of Cape Elizabeth, Maine, and their children, Justin of Portland, Maine and Risa of Los Angeles, California; sister Lisa Tetreault, her husband David of Groveton, New Hampshire and their children, Jeffrey of Groveton, and Stacey Dubois, husband Mark, and their daughter Reese of Jefferson, New Hampshire; brother Richard Penney, his wife Paula, and their children, Joshua and Tyler of Barnstead, New Hampshire; and several aunts, uncles, and cousins. David was predeceased by his father, Robert M. Penney, who passed away in July, 1995.
David has touched the lives of so many students, fellow teachers, and friends that his spirit will live on in the hearts, minds, and memories of those who were fortunate enough to have known him as well as countless others who will be touched by those who pay it forward.
Arrangements are by National Cremation. There will be no wake or funeral ceremony. A private memorial service and scattering of ashes with the family will occur at a later date in California and New Hampshire.