Cover photo for Clarence P Penn's Obituary
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1941 Clarence 2016

Clarence P Penn

August 4, 1941 — September 2, 2016

On the morning of Friday, September 2, 2016, Clarence Preston "C.P." Penn, Jr., lovingly known to his family as "Jim Tom", entered eternal rest. He was born on August 4, 1941 in Pulaski, Virginia, to the late Maria Lewis Penn and Clarence Preston Penn, Sr. He was preceded in death by his brother, Alvin Penn, and sister, Mary Lewis. At an early age, Jim Tom was a lifelong member of New Century Methodist Church in Pulaski, Virginia. Later, he became a "Watch Care" member of Lebanon Baptist Church in Surry, Virginia.

He was a 1960 graduate of Christiansburg Institute in Christiansburg, Virginia. He received a Bachelor of Science degree in English and History from Bluefield State College in Bluefield, West Virginia in 1964. He completed his Master of Science degree in History and Educational Administration at Radford College (Radford, Virginia) in 1968 and obtained his Doctorate of Education from the University of Virginia in 1985. C.P. was a life-long educator and coach. The beginning of his career was at a time of political and social unrest in the backdrop of White Flight during the conclusion of the Jim Crow South. From 1964 to 1969 he taught and coached at Park Central High School in Bluefield, West Virginia and at Randolph Henry High School in Charlotte County, Virginia. After a brief stint as Assistant Principal at Central Junior High School in Charlotte Courthouse, Virginia, he became Principal of R.R. Moton High School/Prince Edward County High School from 1969 to 1977. This area of his life became important because from 1959 to 1964 Prince Edward County closed their public school system to protest the ruling in Brown vs. Board of Education. As a result, when Dr. Penn took over the reigns as Principal of Prince Edward County High School, the student population had been uneducated for five consecutive years. In 1977, in the backdrop of desegregation, C.P. came to Surry County as the Superintendent of Schools. This presented a plethora of opportunities to improve the plight of students who had been neglected by deficiencies during previous administrations. Under his guidance, Surry County Public Schools became one of the top-rated school systems in the state of Virginia. Upon his retirement from the position in 1998, Dr. Penn had built two new schools, added a myriad of programs to the existing schools and a sixty percent (60%) improvement in division standardized test scores. Following his retirement from Surry County Public Schools, he served as an Adjunct Professor at Virginia State University, a Member of the Board of Visitors and Vice Rector of James Madison University. C.P. continued his work as an educational consultant for the Delta Project and Moseley Architects. Dr. Penn received numerous honors and awards including gubernatorial appointments to various boards and was featured in several national publications including The Boston Globe, The School Administrator, Essence Magazine and Ebony Magazine. His professional and social affiliations include, but are not limited to, Member of George H. Dabney Masonic Lodge #201, elevated to the 33rd Degree, Grand Inspector General; Distinguished Gentleman of Surry County; The Rock of Surry Lodge-Order of the Elks; Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. (Class of 1961); and a lifetime member of the NAACP. This gentle, robust, energetic, and charismatic man will be deeply missed by his wife of 52 years, Michaele Paulette; a daughter, Michelle; a son, Benjamin (Dy-Anne); three brothers, Lewis, George, and William Penn; three granddaughters, Lauren, Ivana, and Erica; an aunt, Leila King; and a devoted and loyal friend, Helen Williams. He is also survived by a host of nieces, nephews, cousins, and friends. A service to celebrate his life is being held at 11:00 a.m. on Wednesday, September 7, 2016 at Lebanon Baptist Church, Surry, VA. A Wake will be held at Lebanon Baptist Church from 6-8 p.m. 0n Tuesday, September 6, 2016. Professional services entrusted to Shivers Funeral Chapel. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in "C.P.'s" name to Surry Elementary School's "FEED OUR FUTURE" backpack program, 1600 Hollybush Road, Dendron, VA23839.

Burial Date September 7, 2016

A service to celebrate his life is being held at 11:00 a.m. on Wednesday, September 7, 2016 at Lebanon Baptist Church, Surry, VA. A Wake will be held at Lebanon Baptist Church from 6-8 p.m. on Tuesday, September 6, 2016. Professional services entrusted to Shivers Funeral Chapel.

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