Saturday, September 24, 2022

Obituary - Leo Penn

Leo Penn, 91, died peacefully on Friday, September 23, 2022 at Moore-Few Care Center in Nevada, MO. Leo was born in 1931 to George and Dolene (Dunleavy) Penn of Palo Alto County, IA and had been a resident of Nevada since 1969.

His boyhood years, which coincided with the Great Depression, were spent in Clarion, Iowa where he had his first job at the tender age of 5, selling newspapers for three pennies apiece. 

As a youngster, he would hold numerous other jobs such as setting pins at the local bowling alley, and washing windows at a local café in exchange for a dime and a hot, freshly cooked hamburger. He would hold three or more jobs simultaneously all the years he attended school, graduating near the top of his high school class in 1950. As he’d done all his life, he worked his way through college, attending St. John’s in Collegetown, MN, St. Louis University, St. Louis, MO, and would eventually graduate with a Bachelor of Science degree from Creighton University, Omaha, NE. His lifelong work ethic epitomized his belief that anything and everything worth having is attainable with determination, perseverance, and hard work.

Leo was drafted into the U.S. Army in 1953 near the end of the Korean War conflict. After basic training at Fort Riley, KS his deployment orders would be in direct support of military weapons technology and would take him to the U.S. Army Proving Ground, Aberdeen, MD, Fort McClellan, Anniston, AL, and the Redstone Arsenal Military Base in Huntsville, AL. During his active service in Huntsville, famed aero physicist, Wernher von Braun, would also be there working with Army personnel on its development of ballistic missile technology, part of the Army’s Intelligence program now publicly known as Operation Paperclip. Honorably discharged in 1955, Leo returned to Omaha to work nights and weekends as a Switchman for the Union Pacific Railroad while completing his college studies at Creighton. 

Soon after his graduation in the summer of 1956, he joined the J.C. Penney Company as a management trainee. While in the employ of J.C. Penney, Leo would hold managerial positions for stores located all throughout the midwest, including Nevada, MO where he served as store manager for many years. He was known to be a most persuasive salesman, the kind who could sell snow to an Eskimo!

Leo was an avid fan of television, particularly The Lawrence Welk Show, Billy Graham crusades, and Notre Dame football. The incredibly hard and lean years he’d experienced growing up would preclude his interest in hobbies of any kind, however, when he wasn’t working, he enjoyed discussions about politics, religion, and American-made cars. He dearly loved a good, home-cooked meal (most notably his wife’s desserts). Undoubtedly, his grandchildren will long remember his “signature” pancakes and multi-colored milkshakes.

Leo was a long-standing member of St. Mary’s Catholic Church, Nevada.

His parents, three brothers, and beloved son, Timothy, preceded Leo in death. He is survived by his caregiver extraordinaire and wife of 69 years, Lillian, and their adult children: Patrick (Denice) of Overland Park, KS; Michael (Barbara) of Lenexa, KS; Kathleen (Jim) Quinn of Lenexa, KS, Stephan (Barbara) of Leawood, KS and William (Mary Ann) of Overland Park, KS, daughter-in-law, Becky Penn of Nevada; 11 amazing grandchildren, 4 beautiful great grandchildren; one brother, one sister, and numerous nieces and nephews.

Funeral Services:
St. Mary's Catholic Church 330 N. Main Nevada, MO
At 10:00 a.m., Wednesday, September 28, 2022. Rosary at 9:30 a.m., Wednesday, September 28, 2022

Mt. Calvary Cemetery, Nevada, MO

Ferry Funeral Home, 301 S. Washington, Nevada, MO

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