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Man struck by SUV and killed while shoveling snow remembered as a 'super nice guy'

November 30, 1999|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD

MARTINSBURG, W.VA. ? When his eyesight began to deteriorate as a young man, Robert Penn's sense of smell and touch took control in the kitchens he worked in over the years.

"Anything he (cooked) was good," Dewey Way recalled outside of his stepfather's home near Martinsburg, where Penn was struck by a vehicle while shoveling snow Wednesday afternoon.

Penn, 69, of 144 Princeton St., later died.

Penn began working in food service management at the former Burger Chef restaurant in downtown Martinsburg, Way said. Stints at the Internal Revenue Service in Berkeley County and the National Mine Health and Safety Academy in Beckley, W.Va., followed.

After retiring, Penn stocked vending machines in Berkeley and Jefferson counties for the West Virginia Society of the Blind and Severely Disabled. After about 10 years, Penn was beginning to "downsize" the route, which included stops at the Berkeley County Courthouse and Martinsburg City Hall, Way said.

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"He always had a chauffeur," Way said. "Every place he went, he was well-respected."

Martinsburg City Recorder Sharon Flick said Penn always was pleasant when he arrived at City Hall to stock the snack machine on the second floor.

He was a "super nice guy," Flick said Thursday.

At home, Penn enjoyed sports and routinely flew a Washington Redskins flag on the flagpole in the front lawn for game days like Thursday, Way said.

"I was thinking about putting it up," Way said as he cleared slushy snow from the sidewalk in front of his stepfather's house Thursday.

Neighbor John Robertson said he would tease Penn about his passion for the Redskins and would ask him if he was going to put on his "suit" for their games.

"I don't know who I'm going to talk to," Robertson said. "I liked Bob. I really did. I'm going to miss him."

Way's wife, Pam, said her father-in-law, who was born on the Fourth of July, was a very patriotic, loving man who treated her and her husband like one of his own.

"He didn't seem to be in bad spirits much," she said. "He just took (his impairment) in stride, smiled and went on."

Brown Funeral Home is handling arrangements for Penn, but service information wasn't available Thursday.

The 17-year-old driver of the vehicle that struck Penn was charged by police with negligent homicide.

The court proceedings involving the juvenile must be kept confidential in accordance with state law, Berkeley County Prosecuting Attorney Pamela J. Games-Neely said.

Unless a juvenile requests a jury trial, the outcome of any allegations filed by police also are confidential, Games-Neely said.

Police have said the boy did not have a driver's license and only was able to provide California identification to investigators. He was operating a white Dodge Durango with a Virginia license plate, and police later indicated he was living with his mother in Berkeley County.

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