By Marianne Mueller

Marjorie Penwarden has participated in many parades representing the Legion Auxilary…….


Marjorie Culvey was born in Belvidere. In her youth Marjorie loved to roller skate. In the late 1930’s she had sung, and played piano on a radio station in Champaign, Ill. Over the years she volunteered in church and worked with youth groups.

Known for years as Marjorie Penwarden she celebrated her 100th birthday on May 30, 2018; honoring a lifetime full of accomplishments. Penwarden has lived in the Rockton, Rockford area since 1955. She shares her birthday with her younger sister, Mickey Billman from Poplar Grove.

“When I first met my husband, he was a GI who was serving coffee at Alpine,” reflects Marjorie. The Penwardens were married for 28 years until his passing. Together they had seven children, three sons and four daughters, 17 grandchildren, 20 great grandchildren; and one on the way.

Penwarden starting writing for the Herald Newspaper in 1960. “My first newspaper column featured cheerleaders getting new costumes,” said Marjorie.

Penwarden traveled coast to coast and everywhere in between. Her travels were chronicled in the Herald Newspaper column, “Tales of a Traveler.”

Penwarden served as a Civil Defense Volunteer in World War II.

One of many of Penwarden’s interesting experiences was being an Airplane Spotter.

She worked at Barber Coleman on an assembly line. There she used skills of assembling and soldering components for the United States Signal Corp and Navy Sonar equipment.

Penwarden went back to teaching when she found out that she had a lifetime certificate. “I was known as Miss Culvey at the time. I subbed for two years in Rockford Public Schools in the Jr. and at Guilford and Auburn when they were brand new,” said Penwarden. “In those days we never knew what we were going to teach. For two years I taught only girls physical education. We taught everything from chicken fat to square dancing; you could always count on the chicken fat. We also taught students how to get ready for prom in gym class. I oversaw a study hall of over 200 students and when I would walk in every head was in a book.”

“Hazel Black took care of my two kids at that time,” said Penwarden.

Penwarden taught for 45 years, five of which were spent teaching Vocational Homemaking, in summer schools and 35 years of adult education.

Penwarden took First Aid from firefighters where she was teaching in her first year. At the American Red Cross Natural Aquatics School, Penwarden earned a Lifesaving Badge.

She later taught Advanced First Aid to fireman who first taught her, plus adults and youth. “One of the first places I learned in for student teaching was at St. Joseph’s Hospital,” says Penwarden.

“The Principal at the school that I was working at in Pleasant Plains Ill. enrolled me in teachers college in Collins Colorado,” said Penwarden. “You took whatever classes could make you a living,” said Penwarden.

Penwarden has always had a true heart for volunteerism. She is a member of the Hononegah Homemakers, Walter Graham American Legion Post 332 Ladies Auxiliary, and served as leader for the 4-H Owen Blue Bonnets.

Penwarden was introduced to the Walter Graham American Legion when Letha Preston came up to her house in 1974 to sign her up.

“Letha and I were part of the ‘Dippy Crew’ for an assembly line while making veggie dip for Special Olympics kids,” said Penwarden. “Letha was the boss of the kitchen and we worked to get…

For complete article, pick up the Aug. 8 BDR.

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