Alliance Bank in Sulphur Springs

Opal Lee (Coleman) Penny

Opal Lee (Coleman) Penny spent her life in service to her family, friends, and thousands of patients during her career in healthcare. Serving others was the central theme of Opal’s nearly 95 years until her death April 3, 2024.

She was born May 17, 1929, in Emory, Texas, to Robert S. and Cora Coleman. Opal graduated from Miller Grove High School in 1946 and immediately entered the healthcare field, working briefly as a school nurse in Sulphur Springs until moving to Dallas. During her high school years at Miller Grove, Opal was a standout basketball player, playing forward. At one point, she recalled making 100 consecutive free throws in a row without a miss. She married Milton Penny July 5, 1947, in Sulphur Springs and they were married 57 years until his death in 2004. Opal and her best friend Vernice Penny married brothers. Opal and Milton met on a double date, but not with each other. However, the couples exchanged dates and Opal and Milton would later get married. Opal began working at Baylor University Hospital in Dallas around 1950. She went through the hospital’s X-ray school and became head of the radiology department. She left briefly but returned to Baylor and worked at the hospital until her retirement in 1994. Milton also worked at Baylor until his retirement. Combined, Opal and Milton worked at Baylor for more than 50 years. Their daughter, Pamela, has also worked there for more than 35 years.
Opal and Milton lived in the Oak Cliff and White Rock areas of Dallas until moving to Forney in 1997. Opal and Milton were active in Baptist churches throughout their marriage. They were longtime members of Lake Highlands Baptist Church and she was a member of First Baptist Church in Forney at the time of her death. She was also a member of the Eastern Star, complementing Milton’s 50-year tenure as a Mason.
Her career in healthcare fit Opal’s personality perfectly. She loved serving others and working as a nurse and later in radiology enabled Opal to give selflessly. That was true of her family as well, feeding her family at every chance. Her selfless nature meant she willingly stayed up all night feeding drops to her granddaughter Sara’s sick hamster.

Opal is remembered by her family and friends as a woman of class, always making sure her hair was just right and her jewelry perfectly matched her impeccable taste in clothes. And she was an independent person throughout her life, insisting on serving others rather than being served. She taught her children to take pride in everything they did and never procrastinate. She was constantly encouraging others, willing to listen to anyone without being judgmental. Along with being a voracious reader, Opal was an expert seamstress, making clothes for her family and mending for them. She also enjoyed her time at home, sitting in lawn chairs talking with her son and daughter.

Opal was preceded in death by her husband Milton; brothers Robert Joe, Clifford, and Bobby; sisters Willie Mae and Dorothy; two infant children, Deborah Ann and Stephen Wayne; and daughter-in-law Dalinda Penny.

She is survived by her son, David Penny; daughter Pamela Coker and husband Joe; granddaughter Sara Chatman and husband Jake; sister-in-law Dorothy Duncan; her lifelong best friend of more than 80 years, Vernice Penny; and several nieces and nephews.

Services for Opal Penny are Saturday, April 13, at Rest Lawn Memorial Park in Sulphur Springs. The family is holding a viewing at West Oak Funeral Home from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. followed by burial at 1 p.m.

Arrangements are under the direction of West Oaks Funeral Home.

Author: Chad Young

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