Sept. 26, 1934 – March 15, 2008
The third of four children, Sally Penning was born Sept. 26, 1934, in Alton, Ill. to Henry and Gertrude Penning. A born musician, Sally sang professionally in her father’s jazz band and others, from the time she was a young teenager. She always laughed about how the older musicians looked out for “Hank’s daughter.”
After graduation from Alton High School, she married her high school sweetheart, Jim Brown in 1952. They had three sons and a daughter. In the early 1960’s, Jim and Sally broke with family tradition and left the mid-west, relocating to Seattle. After several years there, job transfers took the family to Portland, Ore., then later to a five year stint in Australia.
Returning to the states, the west coast became home base, and remained so from then on. Friendly and outgoing, Sally made lifelong friends everywhere she went. During the holidays, one could literally wallpaper her dining room with the Christmas cards she received.
Sally’s family was foremost in her heart, and the time she spent with her children and grandchildren was always precious. The kids knew that Grandma would always be there for them. The values of honesty, integrity and practicality were very important to her. She always had an open door, and open kitchen, for anyone in need.
Following a return to Seattle in the mid-eighties, the now single Sally met and married Hal Laurie. Together they pooled their resources to fulfill her dream of retiring in the San Juans of Washington State. They built her dream house on the water’s edge of beautiful Orcas Island, clearing rocks and stumps for her beloved rose garden.
Sally remained on Orcas until 2006, sinking deep roots within the community. A true nature lover, she kept most of her five acres pristine-wild. Her birdfeeders and hummingbird bottles were never allowed to be empty, although she liked to complain about the mess they made. It seems appropriate that she was taken from us on March 15, the traditional “return of the Hummingbirds” in the islands.
Sally was preceded in death by her son, Ted, grandson, Nicholas, and both husbands. She is survived by her son Tim Brown (wife Patti, daughters Melanie and Erin) son Pat Brown (wife Mary, children Laura, Lloyd and James); stepdaughter Jan Shreve; stepson Norm Laurie; grandson Daniel Brown; granddaughter Elizabeth Brown-Sexson; and four great-grandchildren.
She had a great sense of humor, and instilled it in all her family. One of Sally’s favorite quotes by her sons. “She’s an awesome mom, den mother, peace-maker, problem solver, kind and compassionate… June Cleaver… with a cigarette and a cocktail.”
This obituary was contributed by the Brown family.