Thomas, WV – When Bessie Kathryn Pennington was born in September, 1919, President Woodrow Wilson had just set out on a tour of the United States to rouse public support behind the Treaty of Versailles and the formation of the League of Nations. Charlie Chaplin and moving pictures were all the rage and gas prices were a whopping twenty-five cents per gallon. Babe Ruth was racking up home runs and by months end would have twenty-nine homers to become the first baseball player to hit a home run in every park in the league in a single season.
Wednesday, September 4 marked the 100th birthday of Bessie Pennington. The milestone was celebrated at Cortland Acres as Pennington was surrounded by residents, staff and family.
The daughter of Murl Owens and Waitman W. Nestor, she was born in St. George, WV and was one of ten children to bless the Nestor family. The birthday celebrations began earlier in the week with family, friends and well-wishers gathered to mark the occasion, including all three remaining sisters – Sue Poling, Ann Getz and Virginia Thomas. She even received a letter from West Virginia Governor Jim Justice on her accomplishments and political work as a Precinct Captain in Parsons for many years.
As a young girl, Pennington attended a one-room school house – No. 4 on Bull Run – from first to eighth grade, with two double promotions to upper grades. She attended Parsons High School starting in 1936 and was the first daughter in the family to do so. She loved the Home Economics Club and graduated fifth in her class of 1940.
Married to the late Richard F. Pennington, Bessie has lived in West Virginia all her life and other than a brief stint in Morgantown, lived in Tucker County exclusively. She is known as a homemaker, a quilter and passionate volunteer with the United Methodist Woman for over fifty years. She continues to fill her days with close friends and plenty of family – – four children, six grandchildren and twelve great-grandchildren.
These days, Bessie enjoys playing BINGO and visiting with family. When asked the secret to her longevity, Pennington reply’s “I drink milk every day”.