Obituaries » Desmond Penny
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December 4, 1950 - June 11, 2021
Funeral Home Russon Mortuary Bountiful
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Desmond Noel Mary Dominick Penny was born in 1950 in Limerick, Ireland and passed away peacefully after a battle with leukemia on June 11, 2021 at LDS Hospital. His was truly a life of figuring out â€śwhyâ€ť and his family and friends will miss him dearly.
At a young age growing up in Ireland, he remembered reading in any free time he had, enjoying summers swimming in the Kilkee pollock holes while camping near the beach in a tent fondly nicknamed â€śFrankensteinâ€ť, and reciting Shakespeare speeches on the table at his Dadâ€™s potato store on Gerald Griffith Street. He always had a crazy-but-true story ready about his early years and it instilled a love of Ireland into his family. Throughout his life, Des kept his love of his native country through his connection to his family there and the literature and music of this beautiful country.
Des excelled in his academic studies and graduated with a B.S. in Computer Sciences and M.S. in Mathematical Physics from the University College Cork. There he was recruited by a visiting professor to finish his education at the University of Utah by gaining a PhD in Civil Engineering. It was in the U of U Engineering Department that he met Sara Nelson who was working her way through her Journalism degree as a department secretary. They married in Cedar City shortly after graduation and moved to Cork, Ireland to begin their life together.
After a year in Ireland, they moved to Beaumont, Texas where Des was a professor at Lamar University and an engineer designing Texas oil rigs. In Texas, the Pennys shined on the stage and enjoyed being a part of several community theater productions. Des played roles like Henry Higgins, Starbuck, and Ko-Ko. Right before the recession of 1983 hit Texas, Des and Sara were able to get job offers around the country and moved to Cedar City, UT to be close to grandparents, the Utah Shakespearean Festival, beautiful scenery, and a job at Southern Utah State College. Des had a career of 34 years at SUU in the physics department and then helping to found the successful engineering department. He put his heart into teaching and also enjoyed sharing his love of science with younger students in â€śPhun with Physicsâ€ť classes over several summers. He also served a one-year sabbatical at Dickinson College in Pennsylvania. He was honored to receive multiple Distinguished Educator awards from SUU and often ran into students that remembered taking his classes. He was also able to be a co-inventor of the patent for Variable Wordlength Encription with his son Brian.
Des not only excelled in the classroom, but he truly gave his family the gift of his time. Over the summers his children remember him patiently teaching and playing games on the patio (chess and contract bridge anyone?). He shared his love of nature with many camping trips and hikes. He loved nothing better than to sit with his camping chair and feet in a mountain stream and read a good book or have a conversation figuring out a scientific concept, political debate, or family question. He had an amazing sense of humor fueled by Monty Python and his incredible memory for parodies.
There was nothing as contagious as when Des started laughing and he was the kind of person you just wanted to be around. In his retirement, his enjoyment of music grew and he loved singing and playing guitar in groups like Common Ground and at the Community Presbyterian Church. He also loved baking bread, golfing, and reading great books. He was always willing to give his time to family and friends, and his children and grandchildren will remember learning through his enthusiastic teaching and belly laughing right along with him. Sara will remember years of deep conversations, shared jokes, and traveling around the world with her very own Irishman.
Des left behind his devoted wife of 46 years, Sara Nelson Penny of Cedar City, UT, children Bridget Lee (Justin) and Brian Penny (Sandy Feirman), and grandchildren Rachel, Ian, Jocelyn, and Anderson Desmond. He also leaves behind his siblings Kieran Penny, Richard Penny (Catherine), Helen Raftery (Gerry), Brian Penny (Sinead), and brother-in-law Roice Nelson (Andrea), as well as beloved aunts, uncles, and several talented nieces and nephews. He is preceded in death by his parents Richard and Philomena Penny. The family would like to thank his medical team, the congregation of the Community Presbyterian Church, and loyal friends who have helped to ease the burden of the last several months. We invite you to raise a glass for Des and remember to live life trying to answer the â€śwhyâ€ť and spending time doing what makes you happy with the people you love.
Memorial services will be held at the Community Presbyterian Church at 10:00 on Saturday June 19th (2279 N Wedgewood Ln, Cedar City, UT 84721). Please wear masks to the service. In lieu of flowers, donations may be directed to the SUU Engineering Sciences Scholarship. Donation link can be found: www.suu.edu/advancement/giving.html.
â€śGood night, sweet prince,
And flights of angels sing thee to thy rest.â€ť