Feature Article – A Dedicated and Beautiful Woman
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Feature Article, January 6, 2020
Such a strong and determined woman and always with a smile ... well almost always except when she puts the 'boss' face on and gives you the look! And if you ask her, she'll say, "Oh yes! I'm the boss."
To know Florrie ...
Well, here's what her family and friends have to say about her:
- a gentle soul who radiates beauty
- dedicated to her church
- intelligent and wise
- a dry sense of humour
- family oriented
- loving and caring
To many in Mount Pearl she is known as Nannie Pennell. Florrie is such a marvellous woman and is loved by children and adults alike. There's something about her that makes you smile. Always in a dress and looking sharp, she is determined to keep going.
In earlier years Florrie and one of her friends would chat daily. The phone call would happen at 3 pm. When asked what in the world they could find to talk about every day, she said "Oh, all the problems going on in the world and how we'd fix them". It was as simple as that - nothing frivolous and certainly no gossip (she doesn't like gossip), just fixing the problems of the world.
Florrie May (White) Pennell, daughter of Delphine and Herbert White, was born in Ochre Pit Cove May 9, 1920. The eldest in a family of six, she grew up in the Cove and lived there all of her younger years (until she was 44). She remembers the fun and sense of community living in a small settlement. In those days while you went to school in the Cove, you had to go to Western Bay to write the public exams. Florrie remembers writing those exams and graduating with her Grade 11 diploma.
On November 11, 1944, she married the only man in her life, Harold Pennell. The whole community came to the wedding. Harold was a carpenter and in 1964, he and Florrie moved to St. John's. They decided it was best to keep their home in the Cove and rent as they moved around to find work. Their first residence and jobs were at Government House, a time she remembers fondly.
"I remember the first year I worked side by side with the men. I did whatever jobs needed to be done."
They had a couple of other work related moves within St. John's in those first years. Then in 1979 Harold suffered from a heart attack and after heart surgery in 1980, they decided to move back to their home in Ochre Pit Cove during the summer months. During the winter (October to April) they lived with their daughter, Linda, and her family. Sadly, Harold died in November 1985.
There is something about Florrie that makes you love her immediately. At 99 years of age she treats everyday as a blessing and with a purpose. Linda and her grandsons would love to just pamper her and take care of her every need, but she is determined to be part of everything that goes on. There's the housework - ironing, washing dishes, making beds and sweeping the floors. Then there's her knitting, quilting and sewing. In addition to making things for her family, she contributes to the work of the United Church Women knitting strips for afghans. For Daffodil Place she makes exercise bags for breast cancer patients (after a mastectomy, each woman is given a bag containing an exercise ball and other items that will help in post surgery recovery).
Until the last month or so, you'd find Florrie in church on Sunday mornings and she never missed a UCW meeting and all the special events.
"When I was growing up our house was right next door to the church. I was only a teenager when my sister-in-law Ida, who was more like a sister to me, convinced me to go to a UCW meeting one evening. I've been going ever since. We didn't have a church hall or special building for meetings back then. The women in the community would take turns holding meetings in each other's homes.
Living with Linda is good but there's nothing better than living in my own home. While I've been gone for a long time, Ochre Pit Cove is still home to me. I may forget things every now and then, but let me walk into the old house and I remember everything as it used to be."
Florrie also loves to read, particularly books about Newfoundland. Her favourite author was always Earl Pilgrim. She's read everything he ever published.
Florrie and Harold had two children, Linda (Manuel) and Maxwell Wayne. She lives with Linda and her two grandsons, Blair and Scott, in Mount Pearl. They love having her close to them and she adores them. Wayne and his wife, Joan, live in Nova Scotia. Her granddaughter, Jennifer, and great grand daughters, Daizy and Markazia, also live in Nova Scotia.
Linda says "Dad had a great sense of humour and was always playing tricks on people. He was gentle and fun loving. He didn’t need ‘looking after’. He was a good cook. I was his helper. He wasn’t very strict. Mom was the strict one and once she made a decision he would never go against her wishes."
Wayne remembers his Mom being a little strict but he was "her boy". He says, "Our home had its share of laughter. Having joined the military at an early age, I've been away for quite some time but we try to get together as a family every year."