2017-06-16 / Community

Longtime Moorpark volunteer will be missed

Friends remember her caring spirit
By Caitlin Trude


BRIGHT SMILE—Moorpark resident Barbara Penney, known for her volunteer work with a variety of community groups around town, died in her sleep June 6. She was 78. 
Courtesy of the Penney family BRIGHT SMILE—Moorpark resident Barbara Penney, known for her volunteer work with a variety of community groups around town, died in her sleep June 6. She was 78. Courtesy of the Penney family Of Barbara Penney’s many attributes, her smile was among the most memorable, say her friends and family members alike.

“Her smile was what everybody knew her by,” said Robert Perez, Moorpark Unified School District trustee, of the longtime Moorpark resident and volunteer. “She was always just so warm and made people feel welcome, (and) she also brightened up the room when she walked in.”

Penney died in her sleep June 6. She was 78.

A native of Ontario, Canada, Penney immigrated to Chicago in 1962. She and her husband, Roger, raised their children, Karen and Brian, in Highland, Calif., before making Moorpark her forever home.

Over the years, Penney dedicated her time to several local organizations, including the Moorpark Simi Valley Lions Club, the Moorpark Women’s Fortnightly Club and Catholic Charities as well as For the Troops in Simi Valley. She was also an ambassador for the Moorpark Chamber of Commerce.

A member of Moorpark Presbyterian Church, she often volunteered in the church’s nursery.

Penney’s death came as a surprise to those who knew her, many of whom had recently seen her at a Memorial Day event in Moorpark.

“(She) was a big part of the community and you don’t find volunteers like her anymore,” Perez said. “You could always tell that she was a proud volunteer. She is truly going to be missed.”

Her son, Brian, said his mother’s death was unexpected, as she hadn’t had any major health concerns.

“It was a shock,” he said. “I just talked to her on Sunday. We talked at least twice a day.”

He said he’d tried contacting her last Tuesday, but when his calls went unanswered, he went by her home.

“I finally walked in there (and) she was in her chair,” he said. “It looked like she was sleeping, but she’d passed away.”

Brian said he’ll best remember his mom for her generosity and kindness.

“She spent every waking hour taking care of others, whether it was (with) my daughters or volunteer work she did,” he said. “She still had time for family and friends and church. She was just a loving, caring woman.”

Bruce Rokos, former chair of the Moorpark Chamber of Commerce, also spoke of Penney’s warmhearted nature.

“She had a very calm demeanor and was always friendly and engaging,” he said. “She had a tremendous, giving spirit that will be missed.”

“She’s an amazing person,” said Moorpark Chamber of Commerce president Dale Parvin. “I know her grandchildren she worshiped (and) I’m pretty sure they worshiped (her).”

Fellow Lions Club member Greg Steinmetz said he’d seen Penney work tirelessly for the community over the last decade.

“She’s always been a dedicated Lion and worked hard for her community,” he said. “One of her favorite charities was For the Troops. She spent a lot of time over there packing boxes and trying to raise funds or collect items for the packages for the troops.”

Steinmetz said he was stunned when he learned of Penney’s death last week.

“I know that she was very devoted to her kids and her grandkids,” he said. “It’s a surprise and certainly unexpected and I’m sorry we lost such a great Lion. She was dedicated and generous; she definitely cared for her community.”

A memorial service for Penney will be held at 1 p.m. tomorrow, Sat., June 17, at Moorpark Presbyterian Church, 13950 Peach Hill Road.

In lieu of flowers, her family asks that donations be made in her name to For the Troops in Simi Valley, Catholic Charities in Moorpark or the Moorpark Pantry Plus.

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