MARQUETTE, Mich. - Dr. Arthur E. Pennell, 89, of Marquette, died Monday morning, November 5, 2012 at the Eastwood Nursing Center in Negaunee.
Arthur Emmet Pennell was born September 20, 1923 to Herbert and Emily (Schnackenberg) Pennell. Arthur was raised in northern New Jersey and on his uncle's farm in upstate New York. He received his Ph.D. in English at the University of Illinois where he met his wife Phyllis and they were married in 1951. He then taught at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque for several years prior to moving to Marquette where he joined the faculty of Northern Michigan University in the English Department in 1961. In short order he was appointed Assistant Dean of Arts and Science, where he directed the Fine Arts and Concert Program for several years, and was the prime mover of NMU's Arts Recognition Year presentations. In 1966, he became the sixth Head of the English Department. The early years of his tenure as Head were a period of rapid expansion and change at NMU, and Dr. Pennell was responsible for recruiting and mentoring many faculty who became long time members of the department. While serving as Head, he was awarded several important grants from the National Endowment for The Humanities. Respected, admired, and loved by students and faculty alike, he was fair, equitable, good-humored and a master teacher, scholar, and administrator. He retired as Head in 1971, spent a semester on sabbatical, and returned to his first love, full-time teaching.
In particular, he was able to focus on his extremely popular course on Shakespeare, where his talent for dramatic reading brought the text alive for his many students. With Jim Rapport of the Speech Department he led a number of annual pilgrimages to Stratford, Ontario to allow students to experience authentic Shakespeare performances. He also served as expert consultant for a number of Shakespeare productions. In 1980, he published an edition of Anthony Munday's drama, John A Kent and John A Cumber, in the Garland Renaissance Drama Series. He remained a highly effective and beloved faculty member at NMU for 28 years, retiring in 1989.
Dr. Arthur E. Pennell
Beyond the classroom, he enjoyed singing and anchored the tenor section of the First United Metho-dist Church choir for 40 years. He was also a long time member of the Marquette Choral Society. Highly skilled as a reader, he was often called on for performances of short stories, poems or other texts, both for Choral Society and other groups.
He loved Lake Superior and was an expert and enthusiastic sailor of its waters, whether in a Sunfish or his 18-foot Cape Dory Typhoon. One of Art's early passions was drawing and he sketched and drew throughout his life, taking art classes even into his later years. He took great pride in the company and accomplishments of his children and grandchildren.
All who knew him were attracted by his kindness and patient good humor and his ability to spot and comment on the ironies in texts, situations and people.
Dr. Pennell is survived by 5 children: Deborah (Robert) Ross of Bloomfield Hills, MI, Leslie (Douglas Danforth) Jackson of Columbus, OH, Tracy (Emmanuel) Feliz of Marquette, James (Barbara Knox) Pennell of Marquette, and Mark (Liz Douglas) Pennell of Florence, WI; 12 grandchildren: Peter Ross, Adam Jackson, Tim (Amy) Jackson, Grace Feliz, Phil Pennell, Aaron Clemins, Lydia Adams, Jamie Pennell, Nick Pennell, Kristen Danforth, Jennifer (Aaron) Danforth, and Christopher Danforth. Preceding him in death besides his parents was his wife, Phyllis Pennell in 1985.
Visitation will take place at First United Methodist Church on Monday from 1 to 3 p.m. where funeral services will be held in the church at 3 p.m. with the Rev. Steven McCoy, pastor, officiating. Burial will take place in the Park Cemetery.
Those wishing to make an expression of sympathy are kindly asked to consider contributions in Dr. Pennell's memory to the Marquette Choral Society or WNMU-FM Public Radio.
The Canale-Tonella Funeral Home is assisting the family where memories may be shared at www.canalefuneral.com.