Memorial Minute for Helen
Helen Sharpless Pennock, longtime member of
Swarthmore Friends Meeting, died on April 20, 2010, at the Quadrangle Senior
Living Community in
. She was 101-years-old.
She was predeceased by her husband of 64 years, J. Roland Pennock.
Helen was born on August 21, 1908, at Glen Manor Farm in
West Marborough Township
. Her parents, G. Walter Sharpless
and his wife, Edith, had a dairy herd and also grew mushrooms.
She had two sisters, Esther Sharpless Otis, deceased, and Elizabeth
Sharpless Jackson of Crosslands,
. When Helen was graduated
, at the age of 16, her father felt she was too young to attend college
immediately. He sent her to
for one year after which she worked in the Alumni Office at the
. She then attended
for three years before returning home for her marriage to Roland Pennock.
They had met as children, attending
at London Grove Meeting,
, just up the road from her home. Helenís
family was Orthodox Friends and Rolandís family was Hicksite Friends.
At the time the Hicksites had no Sunday school, so Roland was sent up the
hill to the big Orthodox Meetinghouse, where Helenís Mother was the teacher.
After their marriage Helen worked for the American
Friends Service Committee and Pendle Hill before serving as Secretary of the
Swarthmore Friends Meeting for 12 years. During her years in the Meeting Office,
her special responsibility was pastoral care.
She was assigned the task of visiting new families and finding out how
they would like to take part in the Meetingís life.
Her work was needed: Swarthmore Meeting was very large then Ė up to
almost 900 members at its peak in the 1930s. This job was type-casting for
Helen. Never one to draw attention
to herself, she was at the same time warm and out-going, with a genuine interest
in people. In some ways, she filled
the same role informally, both in the Meeting and in the College community, for
the rest of her life. She helped new
people feel welcome and fit in. Helen was the type of Meeting member who could
rightly be called a pillar: attending regularly at Meeting for Worship and
cheerfully performing any tasks she was given. She served on the House Committee
(House and Property were separate Committees then, segregated by sex, as well),
and on Care and Counsel, and Visiting Committee.
She provided constant support for Professor Pennock
during his 47-year career as a Political Scientist at
, opening their home to other faculty members, returning alumni, Board members,
outside examiners, and feeding countless Political Science seminar students.
is survived by her daughters, Joan Pennock Barnard of
, and Judith Carther Pennock Lilley of
, six grandchildren and eleven great-grandchildren.
She is buried next to her husband at the Friends Meetinghouse in London
Grove, where they were married in 1931. A Memorial Service will be Saturday,
August 28, at 2:00 p.m. at London Grove Meeting.
Prepared by the Care and Counsel Committee and Mary
Manglesdorf, July, 2010