Nathan William Penny
October 11th, 1973-August 10th, 2020
Nathan William Penny, 46, Lawrence, KS, passed away August 10, 2020 at his residence.
He was born October 11, 1973, in Emporia, KS, the son of Marlene VanGundy Penny and William Junius Penny. He graduated from Lawrence High School in 1992, and the University of Kansas in 1997 with a B.S. degree in Business Administration.
Nate had a passion for sports and was an exceptional athlete. He was a part of 3 state championship football teams at Lawrence High in 1989, 1990, and 1991. He was a 2-year starter on the ’90 and ’91 teams and earned all-state honors as a linebacker his senior year. He was also a letterman on the Lawrence High track and field teams that won state championships in 1990 and 1991.
Nate later earned a scholarship to play football for the University of Kansas. He was a part of the team when the Jayhawks won the Aloha Bowl and also played in the Kickoff Classic. His teammates from high school and college football became his lifelong friends.
After graduating from the Lawrence Public Schools and KU, Nate had the opportunity to live on both the East coast and West coast. He cherished the friends he made while living in Ojai, CA.
Nate worked for Penny’s Concrete for many years. He helped coach football teams in Ojai, Baldwin City, and at Lawrence High. This was one of the many ways that Nate gave back to the community. He enjoyed coaching and encouraging young people in their pursuit of football, as being involved with football brought him much happiness.
Nate had a deep faith and was able to connect with others on a personal and spiritual level. He often reflected on and wrote inspirational thoughts that he shared with others. During the summer in his college years, he was a camp counselor at a Christian athletic camp. Later, during his years in California, he enjoyed attending the Ojai Valley Community Church and working with the summer youth camps. Nate was currently involved in a weekly men’s Bible study in Lawrence.
Nate was a great communicator and expressed his feelings with his eloquent writing and conversations. He was genuinely interested in other people and put everyone at ease with his quick wit and great sense of humor.
Nate expressed his thankfulness for life in a post on July 26, 2018. “Words cannot even come close to the love I have received from people who have helped me during the last two months. On May 16, 2018, I flatlined from a heart attack (cardiac arrest) in the parking lot of Hy-Vee at 23rd and Kasold. After my time and excellent care from Doctors and staff at Lawrence Memorial Hospital and KU Medical in K.C. I am back by a miracle that will never be explained in this lifetime . . . I haven’t put the timeline together of how long I was dead before the paramedics defibrillated me. I will live my life with a Grateful attitude and start with thanking [God] and those who love me before anything else. Much love my friends. To be continued-Love wins!”
Nate loved the Lawrence community, and so many who knew him loved him, too. To quote Nate from his post on December 8th, 2019, “I often use Sunday afternoon to rest and reflect on my gratitude for life. Being 46 years of age I’ve lived on both the east and west coast of the USA and am happy to have that experience. Often times I would get the ‘do you have a dog named Toto’ or have I seen fireflies. With all being said we may not have the mountains or ocean here in [Lawrence]-we do have some of the best people on this planet. Never forget that when you look a Kansan in the eyes and shake their hand or hug each other. We are Kansas! Love wins…”
Nate was preceded in death by his grandfather, Junius M. Penny, and his grandmother, Emma Lou Rains VanGundy.
Survivors include his parents; grandfather Wayne W. VanGundy; grandmother Mary Lou Nelson Penny; sisters Laura Penny Hedges (Bryan); Sarah Penny Smith (Wyatt); brothers Jonathan Penny (Kim); Scott Penny (Sarah); 7 nieces and nephews: Faith Hedges, Will Hedges, Sawyer Smith, Grady Smith, Alexandra Penny, Ava Penny, and James Penny.
Burial services for Nathan will be held at 11 a.m. on Saturday August 22nd at Oak Hill Cemetery. With social distancing in place, and masks being required, family and friends are welcome to attend in person or while listening to the service from their vehicles on a radio station provided by Warren McElwain mortuary.
The family suggests memorials to the Lawrence Memorial Hospital Intensive Care Unit or KU Endowment, with a note on the memo line to the Nathan W. Penny memorial. These may be sent in care of Warren McElwain mortuary.