Blogs > Sun Insider

News and quick-hit commentary from around mid-Michigan ... from the Morning Sun.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

A link to Dad

Dusty Pennell has a little bit more today than she has had on any other Father's Day.
Pennell, 27, of Weidman has a cherished possession: a photograph of her father, Albert Frank Pennell.
"I know I'll cry, but it will be a better day," she said. "I usually have a rough time on Father's Day."
Pennell was 3 years old when her parents parted ways and was 9 when Albert Pennell died.
Having last seen her father when she was a toddler, Pennell doesn't remember him and never had contact with him after her parents split.
Pennell and her mother, Deborah Lynn Pennell, relocated to Romulus from Pontiac, and then lived for a brief time in Mio. A fire destroyed their home and belongings, which was devastating to her and her brother Christopher Paul Pennell.
They no longer had any photographs of her father.
Pennell grew up knowing nothing about him.
She moved to Weidman in 1997, where she worked at the Zanzibar Beanery before she became blind in one eye and could not work. She and other family members tried in vain to find her father's relatives.
After fruitless searches, Pennell decided to look in a local phone book, and found a listing for Janet Pennell in Harrison.
That effort paid off – Janet Pennell was indeed related to Albert Pennell.
"The next thing I know, I got a phone call from my dad's sister," Pennell said. "We kept in touch for three years.
"I went to the family reunion in Mt. Morris."
Pennell met other paternal relatives at the family gathering, and a paternal aunt, Rita Pennell, agreed to give her niece an envelope containing photographs of her father.
Pennell never got that package; her aunt died in September 2007 before sending it to her.
Pennell's luck changed during a maternal family gathering at her mother's home in Weidman in mid-May.
Pennell's aunt and cousin had taken boxed photographs from her maternal grandmother's Mt. Pleasant home, intending to clean and sort them.
Sandy Reaume, Pennell's aunt, and her daughter, Mary Reaume, took the photographs out of their frames and attached them to scrapbook paper, hoping to spruce them up before displaying them at grandmother Evelyn Teeples' home.
When they took one photo out of its frame, they found another one behind it: a posed picture of Albert, Deborah and Christopher Pennell.
The sight of the photograph brought tears to Teeples' eyes, prompting her to give the photograph to Pennell.
Tammy Folwell, one of Pennell's maternal aunts, said the photograph stunned the family.
"It was a big shock to everyone in the family," Folwell said.
After getting the photograph, Pennell shared the story with Stephen Ashley, who owns the Zanzibar Beanery and is her best friend.
In addition to having the photograph of her father on Father's Day, Pennell is marking the 18th anniversary of his death June 24 and hopes to visit his grave at Lakeview Cemetery in Pontiac.
"I've never been to the graveyard," she said. "I didn't know where he was buried."
Since obtaining the picture, Pennell marvels at how much she resembles her father.
"I didn't know how much I looked like him," she said. "There are still a lot of questions."
In July, Pennell is planning on meeting her paternal uncle, Doug Pennell, who plans to bring the photographs of her father that her aunt Rita had planned on turning over.

Photo by Lisa Yanick-Jonaitis

Reporting by Susan Field


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home