A memorial service celebrating of the life of Clarence Pennington, age 88, of Hebron, will be held at 3 p.m. Saturday, June 21, 2014, at Second Presbyterian Church, 42 East Church Street, Newark, with Reverend Charles Smith officiating.
Mr. Pennington died June 13, 2014, surrounded by his loved ones at The Ohio State University Hospital of complications following bypass surgery. He was born July 12, 1925, in Raceland, KY, to the late Lando Pennington and Emma (Presley) Myers.
He is survived by his wife of 58 years, Nancy Pennington; son, J.C. (Cindy) Pennington; two daughters, Beth (Rick) Black and Lea Pennington; seven grandchildren, Scott Pennington, Erin Pennington, Anthony Milla, J.C. Pennington, Brent Black, Andy Black and Alex McMahon; two great-granddaughters, Jacey Milla and Emma Pennington; his sister, Ruth King; nieces, nephews and cousins; and many cherished friends.
In addition to his parents, he was preceded in death by his sister, Delores Johnson.
A proud veteran of World War II, Mr. Pennington left high school to join the U.S. Navy. He served for three and one-half years on an aircraft carrier, the U.S.S. Ranger, in the North and South Atlantic, the Arctic, African and the Pacific theaters.
After the war ended, he returned home and earned his high school diploma - the first person in his family to do so. He worked the night shift as a brakeman and conductor on the C&O Railroad. Mr. Pennington started his first journalism job at the Ironton Tribune as a general assignment reporter after graduating from Marshall College (now Marshall University) in 1951. He became sports editor, then rose to city editor at the Tribune, and began a life-long pursuit of open meetings and access to public records. At age 28, he became the youngest president in the history of the Ohio Blue Pen Club, an association of newspaper editors.
In 1956, he and Nancy moved to Newark and he served as city editor of The Advocate, eventually rising to Vice President and General Manager. In 1969, he became president of Spenley Newspapers Inc., a chain of three daily newspapers and 12 weeklies he operated with two associates. He left The Advocate in 1972 as Assistant Publisher to focus on his own newspapers. He also taught journalism and writing at Ohio State University when the local branch opened in the old Newark High School downtown.
In 1980, Mr. Pennington became Chief Executive Officer, Editor & Publisher of The Review Times in Fostoria, Ohio. In 1985, he started a journalistic effort to gain access to public records at Fostoria City Hospital and other hospitals in Ohio. This led to three years of litigation including three stops in the Ohio Supreme Court and special sessions of the Ohio House of Representatives and Ohio Senate. The final Ohio Supreme Court decision ordered public access to all public hospitals’ nonpatient records. Ohio’s Sunshine Laws were rewritten as a result of this landmark decision.
Following this revision of Ohio law, in 1988 The Review Times and Mr. Pennington received the Ohio Associated Press First Amendment Award and the National Freedom of Information Award, presented by the Associated Press Managing Editors.
He designed the house and gardens at his Hebron home, hunted upland game and had a life-long love of fishing, which he shared with his children and grandchildren during epic vacations in Grand Cayman, Michigan and Florida. He loved his family more than anything. Until recently, he prided himself on working out regularly at the Advantage Club. On his 80th birthday, Mr. Pennington rode the bike path from Johnstown to Meijer on 21st Street in an hour and 20 minutes.
Friends may call two hours prior (from 1-3 p.m.) to the memorial service on Saturday at Second Presbyterian Church. The Heath Chapel of Henderson-Van Atta-Stickle Funeral and Cremation Service, 1249 Hebron Road, Heath is assisting the family with arrangements.
Memorial contributions may be made to The Dawes Arboretum - 7770 Jacksontown Road, Newark, OH 43056.
Please visit www.hendersonvanatta.com to view a memorial and to leave a message of condolence for the Pennington family.