Cummaquid, MA: Milton Penn died April 6, 2017. Born in Plymouth, MA, April 25, 1923 the eldest of three sons of Abraham and Ida (Lavine) Penn.
A graduate of Plymouth High School, where he played violin in the school orchestra and served as drum major for the band. He attended University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business, and was in the Naval ROTC program. Graduating in 3 years, he served in the US Navy as LT JG aboard the USS Moale in the South Pacific, as foredeck gun boss. He earned a Purple Heart in the battle of Ormoc Bay in the Camotes Sea, the Philippines, but refused it, as he did not want to worry his parents. Following the war he earned his MS in Economics at Columbia University. After grad school, he had an offer to teach at the University of Missouri, however he opted to join his father and business partner in the business, Puritan Clothing Company.
He married Leona Kaplan in 1948, and they had 68 glorious years of marriage. Milton and Leona moved from Plymouth to Hyannis in 1952, where he grew the business, his family and the community. In his career, he served as President or Chair of: the Hyannis Board of Trade, the United Fund, the Cape Cod Council of the Boy Scouts of America, where he was recognized with the Silver Beaver award, the Cape Cod Synagogue, the Cape Cod Hospital, the Rotary Club of Hyannis , where he had 65 years of perfect attendance and was a Paul Harris Fellow, and the Menswear Retailers of America. When President of MRA, he gave numerous talks around the country on the challenges of growing an independent specialty men’s clothing store addressing every aspect of the business. He also served on the board or as trustee of the following organizations: Cape Cod Chamber of Commerce, Cape Cod Community College, The Edward Bangs Kelley and Elza Kelley Foundation, and the Barnstable County National Bank. He was an original incorporator for Independence Park, as he strongly supported the establishment of an area where locals could start and grow their own businesses. Milton was a natural leader and driven to improve his environment, whether in business, the general community or literally, the environment he could control. He maintained a vegetable garden from the time he was 6, and was happy to share its bounty with all.
He had an Amesbury Skiff, built by the Vocational School at Barnstable High School, and would fish in the early hours of the day. He loved the challenge of catching blue fish, and particularly enjoyed it on the grill or smoked. After work he could be found in the yard or in his workshop, when not attending meetings. His love for music led him to become a lifelong supporter of the Cape Cod Symphony, and he took great joy playing his flat back bass with jazz recordings, and was legendary for unexpectedly “filling in” for bassists on break during live gigs.
In his business, beginning in the 60’s, Milton added six locations to the original two Cape locations in Chatham and Hyannis: Dennisport, Orleans, Wellfleet, Cape Cod Mall, Mashpee and Falmouth. He was a firm believer that education is the path to opportunity, and when Cape Cod Community College first opened on South Street, Hyannis, he encouraged his employees to take courses there, and reimbursed them for the expense if they got a B or better.
He and Leona traveled extensively, with their Rotary friends, and with family. Together they explored Mexico, Switzerland, Japan, Hawaii, Alaska, New Zealand, Australia, Israel, England, Ireland, the US and British Virgin Islands, Hong Kong, Portugal, and especially Bermuda, where they loved to golf. He was a member at Cummaquid Golf Club for 51 years—joining when it was only 9 holes. Milton loved being on the water, and sailed in the Caribbean for over 20 years.
He was a man of integrity, and civility: believing in world order and respect for all. He was a big picture person and acted accordingly. He was not without a sense of humor, and we can thank the many traveling sales representatives for some of his favorite jokes.
Milton was recently predeceased by his wife Leona, and predeceased by his brothers Edward and Howard, his parents Abraham and Ida Penn, his son-in-law James Bowman, and his nephew-in-law James Gill. He is survived by his daughters Jocelyn Bowman and Felicia Penn (Joe Hoffman), in-laws Helene Penn, Eileen Penn, Marcy and Gene Burman, and Betty Penn. Nephews: John Burman (Diana Stinson), Thomas Penn (Chris), Scott Penn, James Penn (Amy), Richard Penn (Julie), David Penn (Jean) and niece Lisa Penn (Anthony Murphy).
Funeral will be held at the Cape Cod Synagogue, 145 Winter St, Hyannis, Sunday, April 9, at 1:30 p.m. Interment at Mosswood Cemetery, Cotuit, with Military Honors. According to Jewish tradition, shiva is not observed during the festival of Passover. In lieu of flowers, donations in honor of Milton’s life may be made to: the Cape Cod Maritime Museum, 135 South Street, Hyannis, MA 02601 or to the Goodworks Fund of the Rotary Club of Hyannis, PO Box 39, Hyannis, MA 02601.