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Penny Wenny

July 25, 1959 - November 18, 2014

Rhonda J. Kelly better known as Penny was born July 25, 1959 at Dr. King’s hospital in Bay Shore, New York to Christine Kelly and the late James Curtis. Penny was the last of three children, the baby of the family and she never let you forget it. From early on it was established that Penny was the most like her mother.  Blessed with an outstanding singing voice, beautiful smile and charismatic personality she began collecting friends and play cousins almost as soon as she could walk and talk.

Penny was raised in a household where Jesus Christ was the undisputed head and all things flowed from his grace. As a youngster she attended The Gospel Lighthouse Pentecostal Church in Bay Shore and later the West Islip Church of Christ. She often reminisced about the fond memories she had of summers spent at Camp Shiloh in Mendham, New Jersey. In later years she was a tithing member of New Horizon Baptist Church in Washington, DC.

Penny attended the Bay Shore School system. While at Bay Shore High School she ran track and sang in groups with her friends Dee Dee Fields, Linda Vann, David Brown and musicians Zack Robinson and Allen Griffin.

Bay Shore High School, Bay Shore, Long Island

Penny was raised with a strong Yankee work ethic instilled in her by her mother and grandmother. Throughout her life she seized every opportunity to expand her skill set.  She was one of the first women on Long Island to enter the field of heavy highway construction beginning as a Laborer with Local 1298. She was quickly promoted to Forewoman trainee for J.D. Posillico and served in that capacity until 1986 when during night work a motorist crashed through safety barriers and plowed into the car she was driving thus ending her career.

Never daunted by adversity, Penny retooled and went to work for Shearson Lehman Hutton at the World Trade Center in New York City. In 1990, following the lead of her play cousin Howard Harris she relocated to the Washington D.C. metro area where she landed a job as a Corporate Recruiter for Well Spring Resources. While there, she attended Strayer University who eventually persuaded her to work as a recruiter for them. Then the travel bug hit and Penny reimagined her life once again. She went to work for American Airlines working as a Baggage Handler then Customer Service Representative and finally Reservation Agent. There she fulfilled her love of travel from Hawaii to the Caribbean. When the planes hit the towers on September 11, 2001 it affected Penny very deeply as she lost friends and acquaintances at both the World Trade Center and on the planes. These are events she rarely spoke of.  After this, she reinvented herself yet again by returning to school to studied Human Resource Management. However, this was interrupted when she relocated from Oklahoma City, OK to Long Island in 2010 to care for her ailing mother. She returned to Washington in 2011 to pick up her life once more. At the time of her illness she was employed by the Prince George’s County Public School System.

Penny loved Washington, D.C., the people and the culture. As often as she could she would bring her mother and nieces and nephews there to visit her so they could experience her beloved city. 

On October 28, 2014, Penny was hospitalized at Washington Hospital Center to address cardiac issues. She would remain there until her death.  During this time she exercised her faith trusting God for a miracle.  Reading her Bible and singing and listening to the hymns of her childhood to sooth and comfort her.  She did not want people to feel sorry for her as she fought for her life and was confident that the God’s will would be done.  When the Lord called her home at 2:00 A.M. on November 18th her sister-in-law Delores along with her nephews Che and Rod where by her side.

Penny leaves to morn her passing her devoted mother Christine Kelly; a sister Cheryl Kelly and brother Rod Kelly-Hamilton and a sister of the heart Kitten (Deborah Guest).

She was a caring Aunt to seven nephews Che, Aaron, Christopher who preceded her in death, Rod, Brandon, Taylor and Angelo, two nieces Brenda and Alexandra, and two great nieces Carli and Kizmit.  

She is also survived by a brother-in-law Benjamin D. Veneable and two sister-in-laws Delores Ward and Jennifer Hamilton. As well as two Aunts, who held a special place in her heart, Helen Hamilton and Marjorie Gomez who predeceased her.  She also leaves to morn a multitude of cousins, play cousins, friends and the Cedar Street Gang.

Like many of us who grew up on Cedar Street in Bay Shore, New York, back in the early 60's, Penny was at the bottom of the age ladder. She was the baby and reminded me of "Felix The Cat" with those big eyes in a tiny little body. As we all know, she grew like we all do and became a beautiful lady inside and out. We all know that somebody who is the smallest in physical statue when they enter the room but their persona immediately let's you know they count. We always knew when Penny Wenny was nearby. She was not going to be left behind.

From all of us in the MCSYD.COM family, we send our sincere condolences to the Kelly family, and want you to always know that Penny will always be in our hearts.

-Cedar Street Gang