“A Life Well Lived”
Wilma Adell Pennington
June 21, 1930 – March 21, 2022
“Keep it going” she would joyfully say. And for over 91 years she kept it going with love, faith, and hope as her guides.
Wilma Adell Otto was born in Ionia, Iowa on June 21, 1930, to Fred and Nora Otto. The youngest of three children, her siblings often told stories of how she talked them into doing her farm chores while she played and made them laugh. She had a natural gift of bringing joy and laughter to each day.
Upon graduation from high school, Wilma attended Wartburg College where she received her teaching certificate. She taught in one-room schoolhouses in Iowa, grades 1 - 8. The rural communities embraced her as a favorite teacher and many of her students have kept in touch with her through the decades.
Charles Pennington stole Wilma’s heart on a blind date, and they were married in 1949. They would both say that was the best decision they ever made. They were blessed with 67 years of marriage before Chuck passed away.
Wilma’s teaching jobs helped Chuck complete college and receive his Air Force commission. Chuck’s Air Force career moved the family to 10 states, England and Taiwan. Four children were born to keep their adventure even more exciting! With each move, Wilma made every house a home and always became very active in the community. Her roles included Outreach Tutor, Girl Scout Leader, Sunday School Teacher, Youth Group Sponsor, Meals on Wheels Volunteer, President of the Lutheran Women’s Association, and President of the Officer’s Wives Club.
Although Wilma was involved in many roles, she always said her favorite role was being a wife and mother. She was an exceptional homemaker. Her many talents included sewing her family’s clothes (matching outfits for the girls), making and remaking curtains for each house (she lived in 29 different houses), cooking homemade meals (her recipes are still favorites), packing school lunches daily, reupholstering furniture, making stained glass designs, and winning at favorite card games.
After Chuck retired from his Air Force and Northrop careers, Wilma and Chuck traveled in their R.V. to 49 states. Additionally, they visited all seven continents. Traveling became second nature to them although they never forgot their Iowa roots, visiting the “home farm” and their relatives every year.
Wilma’s address book is evidence of the loyal friend and letter writer she has always been. Anyone who knows her has received a card, letter, or note. Her vivacious personality attracted people across the globe. She loved staying in touch with her friends and family.
In memory of Wilma, send a card, note, or letter to someone you care about. If you want to add an extra Wilma touch, draw a little happy face on it. That was Wilma…always a smile-bringer!
Wilma is survived by 4 children and spouses, 3 grandsons, a granddaughter-in-law, 3 great-grandchildren, a brother-in-law, and a sister-in-law. She would often say “I am SO lucky”. We will always say “WE are the lucky ones.”
A memorial will be held on June 20 at Hauser’s in Charles City, Iowa. A graveside service will follow at Riverside Cemetery. Wilma will rest in peace next to her beloved husband Chuck where their love story began 72 years ago.