Mellie (Betts, Penny, Penny 1) Brown Pennington Lyday died peacefully in her home on May 22. She was born on July 16, 1924 to Annie Lee and Edward Pennington in Hazlehurst, GA. Being the fourth of five girls - Marion, Anne, Murrell, (Betts) and Baby Edd, the tiny girl quickly secured and dominated her niche in the family. On the Pennington farm, her domain was all indoors - no milking or feeding animals, no weeding or picking vegetables. Floors were spotless, clothes in their place and recipes perfected and woe to one who did not toe the line. (One sister found her slip in the yard when she forgot to follow directions!)
For six months she had no name until Murrell exclaimed, “We can call the baby, Mellie Brown the Baptist (after a book she was reading). Her father said, “Well, we can call her Mellie Brown but she’ll have to decide on the Baptist part herself!” (and she did) Her second name and the one that the family still calls her is Betts because she played Betsy Ross in a school play. When she went to college at the University of Georgia with a last name like Pennington it was inevitable that her nickname would become Penny. Sister Baby Edd followed, was also called Penny, so they became Penny 1 and Penny 2.
Penny met Jim Lyday at college and were wed in 1947. Both started teaching careers in Georgia and continued after a move to Cincinnati in 1961. Penny designed the Home Economics department when the new Greenhills High School was built. She organized fashion shows, entered her seamstresses and cooks in competitions and was expected those Blue Ribbons. She helped secure after school jobs, counseled and influenced future homemakers for forty years.
The girl raised in the piney flat lands of South Georgia loved the mountains as much as Jim who was from the area so in 1961, the ‘Rock House’ was purchased in Mentone AL. From that point, almost all vacations were based around the Rock House and always included aunts, uncles, cousins, friends and lots of homemade food. Penny was always a First Church person so they joined the First Baptist Church in Fort Payne, became involved in MAPA, the Singing Senior’s and adopted Howard’s Chapel as a closer second church home.
Penny’s gift was hospitality. She was in her element with sit down dinners. She would set a table for twelve with china, crystal, cloth napkins and the good silver; prepare the meal; clean the pots and pans before serving, all hot and ready at the same time; and then sit down to enjoy the meal. Homemade rolls and desserts were her speciality. Her house was immaculately clean and neat even though it was loaded with furniture and knick knacks collected from “junking” trips. She and Jim would earn ‘mad money’ refinishing and selling furniture they couldn’t fit in the house.
Penny was a person in her own right but her passion was Jim Lyday. From the start, their marriage was one of love, respect, humor and being with each other. He called her a “Dandy” and she adored him. It was a love match of sixty one years. Left behind are children Mellanie Tuttle and Beau Lyday with spouses David Kendall and Brenda. Grandchildren are Kenda Tuttle Rakusin, Sarah Lyday Tilson, Kaylon Tuttle and Amalie Lyday Martin. Grand in-laws are Ronnie Rakusin with Chantal and Levi Prescott, Adam Tilson, Meg Tuttle and Paul Martin. Arlo Ellsworth Tuttle is the golden great grandchild who brought much joy.
Her precious Jim died in 2008 and the family knew that Penny would follow soon after but with her spunk and competitive drive she entered the Miss Golden Girl Contest in 2009 and won! This was literally a crowning glory for her. Penny wore her tiara proudly for her year of reign, went to all the contributing businesses with cookies and personal thank yous! She was a force and survivor with a life well lived.
Funeral service will be 2 p.m. Saturday, May 25th at Wilson Funeral Home with burial following in Howards Chapel Cemetery. The family will receive friends Saturday from 12 noon until the 2 p.m. hour of service. The family is accepting flowers or memorial contributions may be made to the Benevolence Fund of Howards Chapel Church.
Wilson Funeral Home and Crematory is in charge of arrangements.