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December 02, 2023

Helen Martha Wilson Pennell

Helen Martha Wilson Pennell

Helen Martha Wilson Pennell

Helen Martha Wilson Pennell, 87, died on October 19, 2016, at Caldwell County Hospice and Palliative Care, after an extended battle with Parkinson’s disease.

Helen was born on January 5, 1929, the oldest child of Clerge George Wilson and Nola Elsie Icenhour Wilson of Taylorsville. She was a 1947 graduate of Taylorsville High School, where she was the first of the six legendary basketball-playing Wilson sisters.

After graduating from Clevenger’s Business College in Hickory, Helen settled in Lenoir to become the administrative assistant of William E. Stevens, then vice-president of Broyhill Furniture Company.

She married James Harold Pennell in 1950, and the couple resided in Lenoir until 1970 when they moved their family back to their hometown of Taylorsville. Helen removed from public work for 15 years to dedicate herself to rearing her children.

Upon returning to the work force, the majority of her years were spent with the Alexander County Department of Social Services, from which she retired in 1994 after 21 years of service.

Helen was preceded in death by two sisters, Doris Wilson and Jean (Gene) Gwaltney, both of Taylorsville.

In addition to her husband of 66 years, she is survived by three sisters, Nancy (Lawrence) Teague of Hickory, Ann (Larry) Bowman of Hickory, and Kaye (Herman) Hammer of Stony Point. Helen also is survived by four daughters, Myra Pennell of Lenoir, Jan (David) Lackey of Statesville, Angela Pennell of Huntersville, and Sarah Pennell of Taylorsville; and two grandchildren, Jesse (Faith) Lackey of Monroe, and Sloan Stevenson of Charlotte.

The family will receive visitors at Alexander Funeral Service in Taylorsville on Tuesday, October 25, from 1:30 until 2:45 p.m., prior to the funeral service at 3:00 p.m. Reverend Jamie Steele and Reverend Gary Jennings will officiate. Burial will follow at Taylorsville City Cemetery on East Main Avenue (Hwy 90).

Memorial contributions may be made to East Taylorsville Baptist Church (PO Box 906, Taylorsville, NC 28681), where Helen was a long-time member. Also, memorials may be made to Caldwell County Hospice and Palliative Care (902 Kirkwood St, NW, Lenoir, NC 28645).

Funeral arrangements are entrusted to Alexander Funeral Service. Condolences may be made online at


  1. Sherri Millsaps Wingler Hamby on October 21, 2016 at 12:09 pm

    It broke my hear to see where Helen had passed away although I’m sure she is praising Jesus and has a new body. She worked with my mom Linda Millsaps at one point in time and I got to know her along the way. Jan was my classmate and a good friend. I will keep all of you in my prayers. Heaven gained a wonderful lady.

  2. Jerry Dagenhart on October 22, 2016 at 8:38 am

    My heartfelt Sympathy to the Pennell Family.

    • Debbie Presnell on November 10, 2016 at 3:39 pm

      I’m sorry for your loss and Heavens gain. I had the privilege to get to Know Helen, Nancy, Ann, Jean, and Kaye.Sarah Helen’s Daughter we both stayed with Nola. We were friends then and we still are.While I stayed with their Mother Nola Wilson as a caregiver. I will always remember how each one of you touched my life in a very special way, there’s no way I will ever forget. I love all of you. I’m glad Helen is in Heaven where she will never have to suffer again with our Lord and Saviour. Email me

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