Jerry Dean Pennell, 71, of Taylorsville, passed away on Friday, June 24, 2022, at Iredell Memorial Hospital after an arduous, brave fight against Chronic Kidney Disease, numerous infections, chronic retention of fluid, Congestive Heart Failure, a traumatic bladder injury, Prostate Cancer, and multiple broken bones; all since February 13, 2019.
Jerry was born April 26, 1951, to the late Adam and Vera Pennell. He was truly 1 in 7.75+ billion; a loving husband, father, brother, cat and dog parent, neighbor, friend, uncle, and son. As a wonderful provider and teacher, Jerry was an extremely powerful ally to have in your corner: his generosity was ceaseless, especially for his family.
Many will remember him as a quiet, modest man. He also loved to laugh and enjoyed making others laugh. Jerry was great at telling stories and had an unrivaled level of recall for facts and dates.
He was a man of many accomplishments: he set goals and achieved them and was both incredibly persistent and stubborn. A lifelong learner with a terrific work ethic, Jerry financed his own education from the beginning of his 7th-grade year through graduation from Taylorsville High School. He always knew the value of a dollar and had elite arithmetic skills: he could figure complex problems in his head with no aid from a calculator.
Jerry completed Truck Driver Training at Caldwell Community College & Technical Institute and excelled in multiple occupations, including Dairy Farming, Furniture Labor, Route Sales for multiple corporations, including PepsiCo, and Truck Driving for various companies, including Colonial Container Services Inc; finally retiring as a Truck Driver and Independent Contractor.
He was a man of many passions, including traveling. Jerry set foot in 49 states and two foreign countries. While the number of miles he logged will never be known, they literally number well into the millions. A vacation and religious observance in Alaska always held a special place in his heart. He also particularly enjoyed waterfalls.
Jerry’s most intense passion, however, was riding motorcycles, particularly in the mountains of North Carolina, including such favorite towns as Maggie Valley and Brevard, and especially on the Blue Ridge Parkway. For him, that was no hobby: it was life and the cure for anything that ailed him. He said in so many words that nothing else compared. Jerry also loved riding on the Foothills Parkway in Tennessee, and it made his day to spot a herd of elk. Over the course of his life, he owned multiple models of motorcycles, including those made by Kawasaki, Harley-Davidson, and Suzuki.
Jerry came of age during the Muscle Car Era and always enjoyed cars as well, especially those made by General Motors. At different times, he owned such models as a 1966 Pontiac GTO, a 1969 Chevrolet El Camino, and his personal favorite, a 1966 Chevrolet Chevelle. Though made in another time and for a different purpose, a 1985 Chevrolet Celebrity was also very sentimental to him.
Jerry enjoyed good food and beverages in moderation, and some of his favorites were a cold glass of water, a strong cup of black coffee, oatmeal with milk and a pinch of salt, soft-boiled eggs, a grilled cheese sandwich, a cheese omelet from Waffle House, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, various fruits, a slice of blackberry wine cake, and seafood from various restaurants.
Some of the other activities he enjoyed in life were mowing, brush clearing, bird watching, Mini Golf, and 8 Ball Pool. Jerry said his mother once told him that he was born on a day of pouring rain, and he always loved a rainy day and the sound of rain hitting a tin roof. It would have pleased him to no end that rain started falling just as the funeral staff was completing his burial.
He was also a fan of Formula 1, the three top-tier NASCAR series, Major League Baseball, the NFL, and NCAA Basketball. Jerry enjoyed Westerns, including Gunsmoke and The Virginian, and read numerous books by Louis L’Amour and Zane Grey. He was a skilled player of Monopoly as well as Formula-1 and also enjoyed Chess and card games.
As a young man, Jerry was a terrific hunter of small game, once killing over 30 squirrels in a single season. While he lacked notoriety, he was an elite athlete, especially on the basketball court. In middle age, Jerry maintained a soft shooting touch, a sweet jump shot, and a free throw shooting percentage greater than 90.
When playing Backyard Football, he embarrassed would-be tacklers or two-hand touchers with speed, a long stride, quick feet, and jukes, well into his forties. In the same timeframe, he still had the potential, with one swing of a bat, to make a baseball, tennis ball, or rubber ball disappear, possibly never to be seen again.
In his prime, Jerry swam like a fish, could zoom through the snow on a sled in daylight or under the cover of darkness, was outstanding at Horseshoes, and excelled on the family go-kart tracks at Myrtle Beach. Beyond the age of 65, he remained a top-tier Air Hockey player. He also enjoyed the music of Neil Diamond, The Beatles, Elvis Presley, Alabama, and Joe South.
After many years of affiliation with the Worldwide Church of God and the Southern Baptist Convention, Jerry spent his last years as a non-denominational Christian. He read the entire Bible three times over the course of his life and was a regular viewer of “The 700 Club.” Jerry was also a lifelong follower of news and current events, and he loved history.
Among those left to cherish numerous, wonderful memories are Jerry’s wife of 48 years, Wanda; son, Wesley (“Michelle”); brothers, Howard, Ricky, Paul and “Phil” Pennell; sisters, Shirley Harrington (Elbert), Priscilla Little, and Martha Huffman (William); cat, Gooblet; neighbors, “Cotton” Patterson (Mary) and David Coffey (Joann); brother-in-law, “Mike” Lackey (Cindy Balliet); friend, Delaney Cole (Tasha); nieces, Fonda Sharp (Jeff, along with children, Brady and Blake) and Heather Sherrill (child, Hunter); as well as nephews, Monty Harrington (Christina, along with children, Lucy and Jack), Shawn Pennell (children, Preston, Kaylee, and Braycen), and Eric Pennell (Haylea).
In addition to his parents, he was preceded in death by his mother-in-law, Mary Sue Payne; his stepfather-in-law, “Ray” Payne; his brother-in-law, Joel Pennell; and his sister-in-law, Nancy Pennell.
Per the wishes of Jerry, no service was held, and he was buried next to the loving mother he adored at Mountain Ridge Baptist Church Cemetery in Taylorsville.
In lieu of flowers, Jerry’s family requests donations be made to either the American Kidney Fund or the Starkey Hearing Foundation.
The family would also like to request that motorists always be aware of and respectful of motorcyclists, especially when pulling onto one road from another. Look for them: be extra careful of them. They have very little protection in the event of an accident: give them the space they need and time to react. To those that live to ride the way Jerry did, always be hyperaware and extra careful.
Lastly, the family would like to thank the staff of the Iredell Memorial Hospital Critical Care Unit for the outstanding, loving care they provided him and them over the last three and a half days of his life, as well as Alexander Funeral and Cremation Service for their assistance with his final arrangements.
Obituary written by Wesley Pennell.