|Dora Huffman Penington|
I imagine many generations of freshman students had similar experiences to mine on their first day of school at Granite County High School. The big brick building was located on Church Hill on property donated to the city by August Greenheck in 1911. Signing up for classes on your first day consisted of freshmen and new students lining up in the entrance foyer and taking turns being registered. The face that greeted you was Mrs. Penington. She looked at my face and stated “Your Dad is Harry Bentz and your mom’s maiden name was Stevens. Give me your birth date and spell your first name.” She probably did not need that much information from the kids that lived in town, but being a country kid I had never run into her before.
Mrs. Penington was Cosmo Huffman’s daughter, Dora. She was born in 1903 and graduated from Granite County High School on May 27, 1921, at ceremonies conducted in the McDonald Theatre. Class mates were James Calhoun, Humphrey Courtney, Vernon Cutler, Elsie Hauck, Laura Johnson, Helen M. Kennedy, Dan McDonald, Mary McGarvey, Florence Neu, Matilda Saurer, and Mary Wight. The class Motto was: Backbone not wishbone. Dora was the Assistant Editor of their Class Book named “The Montana Sapphire.”
After completing a degree at the University of Montana and some graduate degree work also at the University, she began teaching Home Economics at Granite County High School in 1926. There she met W.W. Penington, in 1927 who was hired to teach Manual Training and Social Science. Dora married him on August 7, 1929, at her parent’s home, with Rev. E.J. Groenevald, of the First Presbyterian Church, performing the ceremony. Elsa Huffman was the bridesmaid, Florence Huffman the maid of honor, George Metcalf the best man and Luther Page the usher. After spending several weeks on the Pacific coast the couple returned to make their home in Philipsburg.
The marriage was short lived, as William Wayne Penington, born April 18, 1895, died in Rochester, Minnesota, on June 24, 1932, where he had traveled for medical treatment. The obituary stated: “Unfortunately, complications due to his training in the camps, during the World War and subsequent hospitalizations made recovery impossible, and Mrs. Penington is left to mourn the passing of a husband at the beginning of their life together.”
According to the obituary Mr. Penington, enlisted in the Army and trained first at Camp Grant in Illinois, then Camp Hancock, Georgia, where he was awaiting overseas orders, when the armistice was signed. He then returned to school and received a degree in Education from Western Illinois, State Teacher’s College, then taught at White Lake, South Dakota, next Western State Teacher’s College and in 1927 came to Philipsburg. After the marriage, William took a teaching position in Deer Lodge in 1931 and planned to return there, in the fall of 1932.
He was affiliated with the Mason’s and had assisted in setting up the Granite Chapter of the order of DeMolay, of which he served as Dad. In 1931, when he moved to Deer Lodge, he served as a Boy Scout Leader. A short funeral service was held at Rochester for family and friends. Then, Dora accompanied by her mother, Mrs. Elizabeth Huffman, sisters Elizabeth and Florence and uncles William and Charles, Bowen, traveled back to Philipsburg, where a service was held in the Masonic Temple on July 1.
Dora continued teaching and in total, spent over forty two years as teacher-principal in the Philipsburg schools. Classes she taught included English I-IV, French, Journalism, American History, Typing, Home Economics, Library, Dramatics, Chemistry and for a number of years was the High School Principal. When she was the girl's basket ball coach, the team was recognized as champions of Western Montana. At the end of her career she was the school librarian.
She was strict. I know of at least one person that failed English IV and never received their High School Diploma. A frequent event was students putting their books on the window sill of an opened window then accidently knocking them out the window during study hall supervised by Mrs. Penington. You then had to be excused to recover your books on the sidewalk below. She always won as the student and sometimes the entire class was detained after school hours to make up for the interruptions.
Dora died in 1994. She was a Past Matron of the Eastern Star; Past Mother Advisor of the local Order of Rainbow; a member of: the American Legion Auxiliary, the National Council of Teachers, a charter member and first President of the Omicron Chapter of Delta Kappa Gamma National Honorary Society. Dora sponsored many High School Annuals and the Granite County Prospector.