John Walton Pennell Jr., 86, of Chester

John Walton Pennell Jr., 86, of Chester, entered peacefully into eternal rest on Wednesday, July 19, 2023, surrounded by family. The eldest son of John Walton Pennell Sr. and Caroline Wellendorf Pennell, he was born in Vienna, Ohio, on Aug. 15, 1936.

John attended Vienna High School, where he played on the Flyers’ record-breaking 1954 varsity basketball team, winning all 22 regular season games, and the Trumbull Interscholastic Association championship tournament – perhaps not without a little help from his dutiful mother, who delightedly served as the team’s scorekeeper.

After graduating in 1954, John attended Bowling Green State University, before joining the U.S. Navy in 1958, serving four years on the U.S.S. Canberra. John traveled the world during his years of military service, eventually sailing to Sydney, Australia, where he met his wife, the late Margaret Richmond Pennell, whom he married in 1962, and with whom he raised his two adored children, daughter Kelley and son Matthew. After the Navy, John worked in the steel mill until joining his brother’s business, Elastomeric Products Inc. He worked at EPI for 30 years, until his retirement at age 52.

By this time, John and the family had relocated to Lake Wylie, S.C.

After a brief stint living in Amelia Island, Fla., John moved to Chester, where he lived for the past 22 years on the same property as his brother, Hugh, and Hugh’s wife, Nancy. Together, John and Hugh spent more than 20 years crafting some of the finest wood products available, producing maple syrup and caring for the land they loved.

Although technically retired, John was never idle, and maintained a rarely matched degree of productivity throughout the course of his life, only breaking from his duties to hunt deer, geese, elk, pheasants, quail or whatever else was in season. A lifelong outdoorsman, John enjoyed sharing his appreciation of nature with others, and taught many not to overlook the simple delights of the wilderness.

John will always be remembered for his affability, generosity and love for his large community of family, colleagues and friends, whom he considered family. Blessed with the gift of gab, and full of tales of adventure and misadventure, John was quick to make friends – and to hold them close for life. He never left home without a few gallons of syrup to offer to any strangers he might befriend that day.

John is survived by his two brothers Paul Pennell (Phyllis) and Hugh Pennell, (Nancy) with whom he was as close as brothers can be; by his two children Kelley Pennell Bozeman and Matthew John Pennell; by his four grandchildren John Perry Bozeman, Samuel Pierce Bozeman, Kate McKenzie Pennell and Jack Walton Pennell, and by an abundance of nieces, nephews and their children, whom he considered all “his own children and grandchildren.”

John was a legend of a man with a beautiful and kind soul. He will be missed more than any words can convey.

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  1. Linda Diak says:

    Hugh and Nancy, my deepest condolences. Mom, Pauline (who thought the world of you), Ginny, Howdy – they’ve all passed, so there must be quite the reunion going on up there. All my best.