Penny Bashore was touched by the Neonatal ICU during her lifetime and it left such an imprint on her heart that she chose to remember the unit in her will.
Penny’s grandson, Eli, was born in July 2005 via C-section weighing 11.2 pounds. He suffered with pulmonary hypertension at birth, and spent the first nine days of his life in the NICU at Huntsville Hospital for Women & Children. Although he looked different from the tiny babies in the unit, he was given the same loving care. Penny, with Eli’s parents, spent many anxious hours visiting Eli in the hospital. He was discharged with a clean bill of health and continued to grow and grow with the love and attention of his “Mimi”. Eli is now a sophomore at Randolph School where he is a linebacker on the varsity football team.
Penny was one of the quiet engines who powered this community. In the world of the arts, she was known for her efficiency, tenaciousness, and consistency. She became a member of the Huntsville Museum of Art Guild in 1979 and served one term as president. She was presented the respected Doris Darling Award for her years of service and leadership to the Museum of Art. Penny joined the Huntsville Symphony Orchestra Guild in 1982; she served as president and chaired the Symphony Ball. For more than 30 years, she chaired the Acquisitions Committee for Crescen-Dough Auction. She was also a longtime member of the Huntsville Symphony Orchestra Association Board of Directors, chaired the 2000 Vive le Livre for the Huntsville Library Foundation, was a founding member of the Gothic Guild, and helped start the annual Zeta Tau Alpha Alumnae fashion show/luncheon to benefit the Huntsville Museum of Art's programs for children with special needs. Penny also received the prestigious Virginia Hammill Simms Memorial Award in 1987.
Perhaps her most prestigious role was that of grandmother, though. Penny picked up her grandchildren from school for years and was always ready with a snack and an appetite to hear all about their days. But more importantly, according to Suzanne O’Connor, she really listened. She was an avid note keeper, writing down the funny anecdotes the boys shared with her every day to share with their mother on their nightly “check-in” phone call.
But one of the best things about Penny was that she had a special gift for friendship. Many friends responded with comments when they learned that we were writing this tribute to Penny and her generous planned gift. Here are their words:
Liz Smith misses Penny’s morning calls. Since they both lived alone, Penny had a habit of calling Liz by 9 a.m. every day just to check on her. “Her love by and for her many friends is a different kind of love. We each had our own unique relationships. Penny loved hummingbirds, dragonflies, flowers and all things beautiful. She was never without a beautiful cashmere wrap or her gold hoop earrings … she was a beautiful and elegant lady. She loved a good hamburger and fries, eggplant Parmesan with very little cheese on top, Mexican with an extra side of guacamole and always Diet Pepsi with lemon if it was available. I still visit and dine with Penny in her beautiful resting place. We shared joy, laughter, happiness, volunteer time, encouragement and a forever patient and kind love. Penny's warm and faithful spirit will reside in the hearts and souls of all who knew and loved her.”
Joyce Griffin remembers, “Penny and I were at Ohio University together and our lives intertwined forever after that. She hosted an annual Super Bowl party at her home where she served her famous white chicken chili. She sat in a corner chair and watched all her guests have a good time … And she loved animals. She brought us our first family English Bulldog in a shoe box. Animals know who the ‘good; people are and whenever she would visit, my dogs would immediately run in the room and jump in her lap. She had a special pair of ‘doggie’ pants covered in fur to wear so she could hug them.”
Friend Suzanne O’Connor shared that people’s names were very important to Penny and she used them when she saw them. She knew the names of her letter carrier, grocery clerk, receptionist at the dentist’s office, and each and every new member (and old member) of a women’s group in which she was very active. And she was truly interested in them all. Suzanne added, “I miss her a lot. It’s the little things—a question that I know she’d have the answer to; a long talk to vent about some perceived problem or issue; something funny that Penny would enjoy being able to share; her honest opinion, which she was usually very willing to share even if she knew you wouldn’t agree; and the list could go on and on.”
Anne Lewis remembers, “Penny was loving and caring to her two sisters, a thoughtful and best friend to her daughter, Lara, a wonderful grandmother to her two amazing grandsons, Walker and Eli whom she adored, and a remarkable loyal, supportive, and loving friend to many. When she believed in something, Penny gave it her all. Penny loved her family, her friends, horses, UAH basketball, dragonflies, hamburgers, and sharing good times.”
Thank you to these wonderful ladies for helping us get to know Penny and her servant heart even better. We thank Penny for being a great friend to Huntsville Hospital and for sharing her gifts and legacy with us. Because of her deliberate and intentional planned gift, the Neonatal ICU will be able to care for more sick babies like Eli.