Thursday, June 2, 2022
11:00 AM EDT
Westview Christian Reformed Church
2929 Leonard St. NW
Grand Rapids, MI 49504
Visitation starting at 10 AM
At the family's request memorial contributions are to be made to those listed below. Please forward payment directly to the memorial of your choice.
Leukemia & Lymphoma Society
PO Box 22324
New York, NY 10087
Westview CRC Education Team
2929 Leonard St NW
Grand Rapids, MI 49504
Life Story / Obituary
With humor, determination, and a generous heart, Catherine "Cathy" Pennell lived a life rich in faith, family, and friendship. A woman who embodied the principles of her faith, Cathy embraced each moment as a gift, consciously finding the blessings in even the darkest moments. She knew how to have a good time and was often the center of much laughter and play. Whether gathering her loved ones for a holiday or restorative time at the beach or on the boat, Cathy knew she was gifted with a wonderful life. A devoted wife, mother, grandmother, and friend, Cathy will long be remembered and so very missed.
After years of misery brought on by the Great Depression and World War II, 1949 began in significant postwar prosperity as sales of cars, televisions, and other goods were demanded by a consumer society. As America's heroes eagerly returned home, a renewed spirit and hope filled the air. The nation's focus was on family and building a brighter future. Nowhere was there more hope than in the Grand Rapids, Michigan home of Louis and Eleanor (Krowlikowski) Klocko as they welcomed their daughter Catherine to their family on January 24.
The youngest of the Klockos' two daughters, Cathy, or Katie as she was affectionately known at home, grew up in a home firmly rooted in faith and family values. Members of the Basilica of St. Adalbert, the family home on Dorothy Street was just a few blocks from Richmond Park on the northwest side of Grand Rapids. The park provided countless hours of entertainment in her childhood. A natural Tomboy, Cathy enjoyed ice skating and sledding in the winter and swimming in the pool in the summer. Her father loved to fish, and Cathy often joined him. These special trips forged a lifelong love for the pier at Grand Haven. Cathy's parents also owned a cottage in Trufant, where she and her sister, Barbara, spent many summer weekends enjoying the lake and finding treasures at the local flea market. Cathy attended St. Adalbert's Catholic Elementary and graduated from West Catholic High School.
After graduating high school, Cathy found work for Michigan Bell as an operator, then worked for Bissell for a short time. She loved the beach and spent as much time there as possible. While attending Grand Haven's annual Beach Bash, which included rollerskating, Cathy first met Mike Pennell, who was also from Grand Rapids. Though things didn't take off immediately when their paths crossed again at Big Boy, Mike asked if he could come by her house, and their courtship officially began. A few months later, on August 16, 1969, the couple celebrated their love and commitment in a marriage ceremony at St. James Catholic Church.
After honeymooning at Niagara Falls, the newlyweds made their first home in a house on Garfield NW. Once they welcomed their firstborn, Deb, they moved to another home on Marlin. A few years later, when Eric was born, they moved to their home of many years in Jenison, where they raised their family. This move proved fateful as Cathy quickly became best of friends with her neighbor, Bonnie. Cathy first found work with Olsen Temporary Service, placing people in jobs. Eventually, she settled in at P&F Supply, which her husband owned. For over 20 years, she and Bonnie worked together at P&F Supply, enjoying one another's good company and even bringing her beloved dogs to work.
Raised in different religious traditions, after moving to Jenison, Cathy and Mike began worshipping together, finding common ground at Friendship Chapel. In the comforts of this fellowship, not only did their faith mature, but they also built many long-lasting friendships. Along with communing with church friends, many of their social activities included dive club friends. Mike was passionate about diving, and Cathy supported his passion by spending the day on the beach with the kids. The dive group traveled over 30 times together, exploring numerous places in the Caribbean. Cathy and Mike also kept a boat for many years at Harbour Towne Marina in Muskegon. Later in life, as she reflected back on these early years with a young family, Cathy often marveled at how they were able to be away most weekends and still maintain their jobs and home.
Around the home, Cathy was the glue that brought the extended family together; she loved seeing everyone together and relished in hosting the holiday gatherings. She enjoyed holiday decorations and was well known for her Goulash and peanut butter caramel popcorn. Once their children were grown, Cathy and Mike returned to the west side of Grand Rapids, making their home a large house on Kinney NW and becoming members of Westview Christian Reformed Church. After selling the boat, she and Mike camped for a short time before realizing that while working full time, planning for camping was too much work. Instead, they first found a lot at Oak Grove, then for the last many years, at Sandy Pines. She loved to be with people, and at Sandy Pines, they enjoyed creating many treasured memories with neighbors and family. Rides on the pontoon boat were especially memorable.
Once grandchildren came, Cathy enthusiastically welcomed her role as a grandmother. She organized special times together, including holiday gatherings, Halloween carnivals, and Easter egg hunts. Fondly called "Grandma Katie," referencing a nickname from her youth, she and Mike also enjoyed treating their family to many trips to Florida. In her last years, health challenges made cooking too difficult. So, they came to enjoy eating out; some of their favorite restaurants included Red Lobster, Bonefish Grill, and Rush Creek Bistro. Perhaps her prize time was with her Westview Church friends each Monday morning at Panera.
In her youth, Cathy enjoyed belly dancing, and over the years, she did a little macramé, ceramics, and quilting; however, her greatest hobby was shopping. In her quiet time at home, she and Mike watched Chicago PD and enjoyed the special gifts of canine companionship. She adored her beloved King Charles Cavaliers, Kaleigh, Charlie, and most recently, Sammy.
About four years ago, Cathy had a stem cell transplant, and after many months of recovery, just as she was able to start meeting with friends again, the world went into lockdown with the pandemic. She would have none of it and wanted to see her family together. With great wisdom, she knew that her relationships with her family and friends were what was most important. Even in the face of her final months, her faith and love for others provided deep peace.
Though our days with Cathy were far too few, they were rich beyond measure. May our many treasured memories and the honor of carrying her beautiful legacy forward afford much comfort. In each moment we choose faith over fear, enjoy a day at the beach, share a belly laugh, cheer on our loved ones' endeavors, or explore the world with our beloved, we celebrate the many gifts Cathy gave us. In this way, we keep her spirit alive and inspiring others just as she inspired each of us to live wholehearted lives.
Catherine Pennell, age 73, of Walker, passed away on May 11, 2022, surrounded by her family. She was preceded in death by her sister, Barbara O'Hara. Cathy is survived by her husband, Mike; children Deb & Rob Smitter, Eric & Alma Pennell; grandchildren Allison, Nate, and Mike Misner, and Alex Pennell; sisters-in-law Sue Pennell and Marjorie Pennell; as well as special friend Bonnie Cummings and many other friends. Her memorial service will be held at 11 AM on Thursday, June 2, 2022, at Westview Christian Reformed Church, 2929 Leonard St. NW. Friends are invited to visit with her family on Wednesday, June 1, 2022, from 2-4 and 6-8 PM at Heritage Life Story Funeral Home – Alt & Shawmut Hills Chapel, 2120 Lake Michigan Drive NW, and at Westview CRC on Thursday, beginning at 10 AM. For those who wish, memorial donations to Westview CRC Education Team or The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society are appreciated. To read more about Cathy's life, to share a favorite memory or photo, or sign her guestbook, visit www.heritagelifestory.com