ROCHELLE PENNINGTON is an award-winning newspaper columnist and bestselling author of ten books including Highlighted in Yellow (available in four languages; co-authored with H. Jackson Brown, #1 New York Times bestselling author), Christmas Gifts: Ten of the Greatest Ever Given, The Historic Christmas Tree Ship (as featured on national television), An Old-Fashioned Christmas (2009 Midwest Booksellers Choice Award nomination), and more. Her work has been included in multiple bestselling series over the past two decades.
Pennington has worked as a consultant providing story and quotation recommendations to several of the publishing industry’s most noted authors including Jack Canfield of Chicken Soup for the Soul, H. Jackson Brown of Life’s Little Instruction Books, Dr. Richard Carlson of Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff, and Alice Gray of Stories for the Heart.
Pennington is both a lively storyteller and an entertaining lecturer. Her popularity as a presenter to schools, libraries, historical societies, corporations, hospitals, retirement facilities, and civic organizations is evidenced by the many invitations she receives to return and speak on further topics, ranging from history’s most memorable stories, complete with fascinating trivia, to motivational engagements highlighting courage, determination, and personal strength. She expertly weaves the perfect balance of humor, charm, and riveting facts into her captivating performances which focus on “the best of humanity.” Audience members depart with inspiration to apply the principles presented to their own lives.
Pennington speaks at over a hundred events annually. A few highlights from her 2012, 2013, and 2014 calendars are listed below. Audience sizes range from 20 people to over a thousand. She is grateful for all of her audiences and patrons.
If you would like to schedule a speaking engagement, call 1-800-503-5507 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. To view program options, please click on the “Program Brochure” link at left. Scroll to page 2 of the brochure by using the lower right arrow. Publicity photos are availabe by clicking "Contact" (above left).
The author resides in Wisconsin with her husband of thirty-four years. They have two grown children and three grandchildren “so far.” In her free time, she enjoys spending weekends at her family’s 100-year-old vintage “up north” cottage just south of the Porcupine Mountains in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. The author’s next title, Where the Hammock Hangs, due for release in 2016, celebrates Pennington’s seven summers beside the waters. The book includes extensive history on Lake Superior’s lighthouses, sunken ships, copper mines, logging camps, and lodges.
Cherishing Children: Taking Time for Togetherness is the author’s most recent release. The book’s opening and closing essays may be read HERE.
Great Lakes Captains Association
Rochelle Pennington was honored to speak at the January 2015 Coast Guard Captains Annual Conference. It was her second invitation. Previously, the author delivered her keynote address on the Endurance expedition, considered the “greatest survival story in human history,” to 150 captains of this organization at their 2013 conference. Her speech emphasized leadership and strength of heart. Afterward, she was contacted by Captain Jack Cork from the program committee, who shared with her that it was the first time in their conference history that a speaker received a score of 100%, averaged from the evaluation forms completed by audience attendees. Additional feedback from committee member Captain Dean Hobbs followed:
“Every captain in your audience, Rochelle, sat silently and listened attentively. Your passion kept everyone’s attention. No one moved. No one even got up to use the restroom. We haven’t seen that in forever. You are a passionate speaker and your presentation of the events surrounding Sir Ernest Shackleton’s epic voyage was a testament to leadership and absolutely defined the possibilities of men working together in one of the harshest environments known to man. You delivered, in simplest terms, a success story that defied all odds.”
Rochelle Pennington was invited to return to the Dallas Woman’s Club during the 2014 holiday season to deliver another lecture in the grand auditorium. Previously, she had been royally welcomed by this organization in 2012 when she presented her “Christmas Tree Ship” program to members of the prestigious Mary K. Craig class.
Comments received from Mrs. Kathy Jackson, Program Director, after the 2012 presentation:
“Your program was the perfect way to start the Christmas season, and our members loved it. Many thanks for sharing your well-written and documented information with us, along with your gift for communication and storytelling. I hope to see you again in the future.”
The evaluation form returned by the organization included the highest possible mark, along with these written comments: “Rochelle was delightful and interesting. Excellent delivery and research. Fascinating topic. We will definitely want her back.”
Comments received from Mrs. Diane Bumpas, Program Director, after the 2014 presentation:
“Rochelle continues to please our Craig Class membership and guests with her fascinating narrative and excellent visuals. After her program, she meets her audience with great charm. I hope the Craig Class will consider inviting Rochelle on a more regular basis.”
Update: Rochelle will be returning to Texas in January 2016 to speak to members of the Dallas Knife and Fork Club at their Black-Tie Dinner.
October 2015 200 seniors spent the afternoon listening to author Rochelle Pennington’s “Endurance” presentation. The event was scheduled collectively between Plymouth Place, La Grange, Illinois, a premier retirement community, and the GlynnDevins Agency in Overland Park, Kansas.
American Geographical Society
Comments from Jovanka Ristic, American Geographical Society staff librarian for the past thirty years: “I’ve had nothing but very positive feedback from members and guests of the Map Society of Wisconsin who attended Rochelle Pennington’s recent presentation on the ‘Endurance.’ This was one of the best and most well-attended lectures we’ve had. The way Rochelle wove together the actual photographs and writings of Shackleton and his crew with her own narrative of their miraculous survival story really made it come alive for the audience.”
Comments from Dr. Donn K. Haglund, who holds a Governor’s office with the American Polar Society and is considered an expert on Arctic issues: “I remember well the truly outstanding lecture Rochelle Pennington delivered at the American Geographical Society Library on the Shackleton expedition. The account she so dramatically portrayed was truly the best presentation of an explorer’s account that I’ve heard—ever—in my long career of attending such programs, as a geographer specializing in polar science. I was very fortunate to have been there to hear and see the event." Professor Haglund taught at the University of Wisconsin for over 40 years, including the “Arctic Winter” field course for 25 years.
Comments from Michael Marini, Program Committee member: “Rochelle Pennington is an engaging storyteller and her stellar ‘Endurance’ lecture is spellbinding. Not only does she tell about the physical aspects of the journey, but she describes the emotions and feelings of the crew as if you were experiencing their adventure. Well-researched and well-written.”
Update: Rochelle will be returning to the American Geographical Society Library in March 2016 to deliver her “Wreck of the EdmundFitzgerald” presentation. This program includes information on the Great Lakes and features extensive information on Lake Superior specifically.
Pennington has addressed thousands of members of various town halls and lecture organizations over the past five years.
Above photo: Pennington spoke to 950 members of the Horizons Town Talk at the Horizons Conference Center during their 2013-2014 speakers series. Five presenters are chosen annually to address this audience. Included among those chosen for the 2013-2014 season were Hollywood legend Joan Collins (of “Dallas” fame) and Candy Crowley, CNN’s chief political correspondent and Presidential debate moderator.
Additionally, Pennington was one of five speakers chosen to address hundreds of members of the Pontiac/Oakland Town Hall for their 2013-2014 lecture series at the St. George Greek Orthodox Cultural Center in Bloomfield Hills.
Pennington previously spoke to a sold-out audience of 450 members of the distinguished Livonia Town Hall Lecture Series during their 2011-2012 season and returned to speak to a sold-out audience of 700 members of the Downriver Town Hall Lecture Series during their 2012-2013 season on the recommendation of the Livonia members. Rochelle’s presentation was preceded by a speech from Morgan Fairchild, actress, and followed by a lecture from Martha Raddatz, international journalist.
The Downriver Town Hall event was held in Southgate, Michigan at the Crystal Gardens (photo below). A luncheon banquet followed Pennington’s speech in the lecture hall, and an hour long question/answer period followed the luncheon.
Lansing, Michigan Indianapolis, Indiana Packard Music Hall, Warren, Ohio Monteagle, Tennessee Door County Maritime Museum/Northern Great Lakes Visitor Center/Lake Superior Marine Museum State of Wisconsin Hospital Association Convention AAUW American Assn. of University Women Roosevelt University, Schaumburg, Illinois Novartis Pharmaceuticals, largest pharmaceutical company in the world Oregon Town & Country Woman's Club Neenah Woman's Tuesday Club Lecture Series
November 2016 Rochelle was thrilled to be selected as one of four lecturers chosen annually to address members of the Trumball Town Hall. Events are held at the Packard Music Hall in Warren, Ohio.
Packard Music Hall
Rochelle will be speaking to 750 members of the Lansing Town Hall Lecture Series in November of 2015, and will also be speaking to hundreds of members of the distinguished Sunnyside Guild’s Town Hall Series in Indianapolis, Indiana, in December of 2015.
July 2015 Pennington was honored to receive an invitation to teach at the Monteagle Assembly, one of America’s oldest Chautauquas, founded in the 1800s, and located on the Cumberland Plateau in southeastern Tennessee. Chautauquas were established across America to promote spiritual and intellectual nourishment in the arts, theater, literature, and public affairs, and to further ecumenical, inter-denominational religious studies. She was a guest at the historic Edgeworth Inn during her stay. Her delivery of two separate lectures to the Monteagle community in July was preceded by a lecture from Jon Meacham the week prior. Meacham is a New York Times #1 bestselling author, an executive editor at Random House, a professor at Vanderbilt University, and a winner of the Pulitzer Prize.
Door County Maritime Museum, November 2015 Northern Great Lakes Visitor Center, November 2015 Lake Superior Marine Museum, November 2015 Rochelle will be returning in November 2015 to the Door County Maritime Museum, one of the most respected maritime facilities on the Great Lakes. It is the author’s fifth invitation to lecture for this organization over the past decade. The author will be delivering her powerful “Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald” presentation in honor of the 40th anniversary of the ship’s November 1975 disappearance. She will additionally be hosted at two other premier nautical facilities in November, both noted above.
A Special Nautical Note: Pennington was honored to be interviewed by “Lakeland Boating” magazine, a widely respected publication known as “the voice of the Great Lakes for more than six decades.” Two separate articles in the magazine’s November/December 2015 issue feature the author’s writing and research on the Christmas Tree Ship and the Edmund Fitzgerald.
November 2015/March 2016 Pennington will deliver the keynote address to 300 members of the American Association of University Women at their annual fundraising banquet in November of 2015. 500 members of Roosevelt University’s Learning in Retirement Institute will have the opportunity to take “A Walk Down Memory Lane” with Pennington in March of 2016.
Pennington was invited to return to the State of Wisconsin Hospital Association conference in October of 2015. The author previously spoke at the 2013 conference. Correspondence arrived afterward from the convention chairperson, Pat Freeders, who typed-out a list of comments received from audience members who were surveyed for their reactions. The following answers were given by different people to the question “What did you like most about Rochelle Pennington’s presentation?”: Everything! The speaker was amazing! Very enlightening! The whole thing! It warmed my heart! Engaging presenter! It was lighthearted and fun! She did a wonderful job of sharing so many memories and did it very well! Couldn’t have been better!… “As you read the comments,” wrote Pat Freeders, “you will see how the participants enjoyed your presentation. Thank you from all of us, and from those who were fortunate enough to hear your program.”
Pennington will be speaking to key company employees at Novartis Pharmaceuticals’ “Women in Leadership” event in November 2016. Her address will be televised to individual districts nationally.
Pennington has been actively involved in education over the past two decades and has presented countless programs at all grade levels of education, from elementary schools to colleges. Pennington’s 2013-2014 events included presentations at Harper College, Nicolet College, Northeast Technical College, Gateway Technical Institute, Notre Dame, and the University of Wisconsin. Additionally, she has been a frequent speaker for Retired Educators Association chapters since delivering the keynote address for their State Conference in 2005. The group’s newsletter reported afterward: “What a wonderful convention we had at Green Lake. I simply cannot report all the activities we shared, but who can forget the amusing and provocative delivery by Rochelle Pennington? Those of you who missed coming really lost out on some exciting information and glorious entertainment.” She has been called the “teacher of teachers.”
Jacqueline Laub, Program Chairman of the Oregon Town & Country Woman’s Club, contacted Rochelle following her address to members in February 2015: Hi Rochelle, Firstly, I want to thank you for your wonderful performance last Tuesday. Never have I had such a fantastic response from our club members regarding a program! Secondly, as we discussed, I would love to book you for our meeting on October 13, 2015. I know you will provide an inspiring program. Rochelle, I was also impressed with not only your program but with you as a person. With fondest wishes, Jacqueline Laub After Rochelle’s October 2015 presentation, Ms. Laub forwarded the following note: Please consider this message a firm confirmation that you will schedule this date, December 13, 2016, to speak to our ladies as only you can, in the remarkable way you captivate an audience. I have received so many compliments and praise from our ladies who said they were so very impressed with you and the way you made them a part of your feelings. You are truly a remarkable person and I feel that you are a kindred spirit. I feel that I have known you forever. Let us keep in touch, Jacqueline
March 2015 Wisconsin is home to the Neenah Woman’s Tuesday Club, a widely respected provider of weekly lectures since the 1800s. Pennington is returning in 2015 to deliver her “A Walk Down Memory Lane” program to members. Previously she presented her “Christmas Tree Ship” presentation in 2010, her “World War I Christmas Miracle” in 2011, and “The Endurance” account in 2013. Ann Moe has served on the Program Committee for the past decade and forwarded these comments to Rochelle: It was so good to see you again yesterday, Rochelle. Thank you for the wonderful presentation! You hit the ball out of the park once again! I heard wonderful comments from everyone—they loved it! I know I will see you again, my friend.
Above photo: Rochelle Pennington with Evan Thurmond, President of The Executives Club
Pennington addressed distinguished businessmen and women of The Executives Club in Louisville, Kentucky, on the subject of leadership. The event was held at the opulent Brown Hotel, one of Kentucky’s premier landmarks.
Comments from Jan Kottke, The Executives Club, Program Chairperson:
"What a FABULOUS evening with you! It was way too much fun! The Board RAVED about you and your presentation!"
The Brown Hotel, Louisville, Kentucky
Over 400 members of the Town Hall of Denver gathered in the Bethany Lutheran Church in 2014 to hear Pennington’s “A Walk Down Memory Lane” presentation.
Rochelle was warmly welcomed back to the German American Heritage Center in Davenport, Iowa, during the fall of 2014. She presented her “World War I Christmas Truce” speech to historians and patrons of this fine facility for their annual banquet.
Previously, Pennington presented two speeches at the museum in 2012, each of which concluded with carol singing in both English and German. The author, a church organist for the past 38 years (since her freshman year of high school), provided musical accompaniments on a vintage piano.
Comments from Janet Brown-Lowe, Director of the facility, following the 2012 programs: “Rochelle, we thoroughly enjoyed both of your presentations, and I can say that they were certainly among the very best that we have offered this year. (We will have had 60 programs in 2012—whew!) You did a wonderful, wonderful job! I am eager to get you booked back and will be in touch regarding that.”
Pennington was deeply humbled to be asked to deliver one of the two keynote addresses to audience attendees at a benefit which raised thousands of dollars for wounded warriors in November 2014. The event was held on the Notre Dame campus in the Morris Inn ballroom.
Pennington was invited by the event host/organizer, Christopher Stevens, co-founder of Keurig Coffee, and his wife, Trice, who sent the following note afterward:
“I wanted to say that it was such an honor having you speak at our event. My only wish was that I had an opportunity to spend more time with you. Meeting you was one of the things I looked forward to the most. Jan, Laurie, mom, and I would love to adopt you. So, you are officially in our hearts and in our family. Thank you for your time, generosity, and words, which filled the room with interest and perspective. The efforts of all involved helped us raise over $22,000 that evening. I wish we lived close so we could share some time together. Hugs, Trice”
Update: After Pennington's November 2014 Notre Dame speech, the author was invited to return to the university in March of 2015 to speak to students for a special leadership course.
CLICK HEREto read three of Rochelle Pennington’s newspaper columns honoring military service. (Two of these columns appeared as weekly features during the Christmas season in earlier years.) Also included are two additional columns on freedom.
Rochelle returned in 2014 to the 1864 Civil War church on the historic grounds of the Naper Settlement to deliver her “WWI Christmas Miracle” program to listeners in packed pews. It was the author’s fourth invitation to speak at this well-respected, award-winning museum over the past eight years, three times as a presenter for the History Speaks Lecture Series, and the other as a special guest during one of the museum’s “Intimate Evening with an Author” gatherings, offered to select donors (by invitation only).
Pennington’s 2013 program in the vintage sanctuary was titled “Stories Behind Our Most Loved Hymns and Carols” and was based on the author’s research as an accomplished musician (organ, piano, guitar).
She has also served as a children’s choir director and has written (and directed) many worship service dramas. Several of her published dramas for children and adults have been widely performed. Two of her adult dramas alone, “Bethlehem Speaks” and “Jerusalem Speaks: Voices in the Shadow of the Cross,” have been presented in over a thousand churches nationwide.
National Exchange Bank & Trust
Pennington was honored to present her program “A Walk Down Memory Lane” to nearly 600 patrons of the National Exchange Bank & Trust’s “Golden Year Club,” a premier banking club for seniors, who registered for her seminar. Reference below:
To Whom it May Concern,
National Exchange Bank invited Rochelle Pennington to be our guest speaker for our annual fall seminars we host for our customers that are age 55 or better. I chose Rochelle because I had read an article about her a few years before and had purchased her book “Believe in Yourself” (which sits in my office when I need inspiration). The response to the seminars entitled “A Walk Down Memory Lane” was over-whelming, to put it mildly. We scheduled three seminars and had to add an additional seminar due to the many requests to attend. In 25 years, this was our most attended seminar.
Rochelle captured the audience with her humor, charm and touching stories coming from her heart. She had people in the audience with tears in their eyes as they related to her stories. After her presentation they lingered to visit with Rochelle and share time with her.
I received many phone calls thanking the bank for presenting this uplifting program and still am receiving calls asking for her contact information. She most definitely will be back at National Exchange presenting another program in the near future.
Rochelle’s inspirational presentation left us recalling many memories of the wonderful life we had and still enjoy today! Thanks for the memories, Rochelle!
If you have additional questions or concerns please contact me. You will not be disappointed with Rochelle as your speaker.
Janet L. Johnson
Marketing Assistant National Exchange Bank & Trust email@example.com 920-906-6865
Mercy Health Systems Hospital
Over 250 hospital volunteers gathered to hear Rochelle Pennington’s “An Old-Fashioned Christmas” presentation in November 2014.
Comments from Jill Ayres, event organizer: “Dear Rochelle, I wanted to send you a personal thank you. Wow!! You did a beautiful job at our Volunteer Luncheon. I was so excited that we had so many people tell us how they enjoyed the program! People said it was one of the best luncheons and programs they have attended! May you have a wonderful holiday season.”
Pennington has delivered many speeches over the past fifteen years to volunteers during “thank you” luncheons/dinners. In 2013, she spoke at the State of Wisconsin Hospital Association Annual Convention where she delivered her speech “Honoring the Spirit of Volunteerism: Brightening the World Through Generous Gestures.”
Photos below: Pennington has delivered three keynote speeches over the past nine years to volunteers of the Kishwaukee Hospital in DeKalb, Illinois, including an Olympic-themed event. Each volunteer received a gold medallion award attached to a red, white, and blue ribbon, acknowledging the volunteer’s “outstanding accomplishment” in serving others. Pennington closed the ceremony by sharing thoughts on “hearts of gold,” centered on her story “Kindness Matters,” as included in her book Highlighted in Yellow.
CLICK HERE to read three additional writings on the subject of kindness and generosity.
Rochelle has been a Hospice Hope volunteer to the terminally ill since 1996.
Wisconsin Author Annual Christmas Tea
Rochelle returned to this tea event in 2014 to deliver her keynote speech, “The Hidden History Behind Charles Dickens Writing ‘A Christmas Carol.’” She was previously honored to deliver the 2012 keynote at this event.
Rochelle is pictured above with attendees of the Christmas tea, including writer Dennis Uhlig, who is also a retired English teacher and bookstore manager. Mr. Uhlig has been a dear friend of Rochelle's since her first column, Insights and Inspirations, appeared in Wisconsin newspapers in the mid-1990s. Insights and Inspirations was followed by a weekly feature, As I See It, which was later followed by A Look at Life. Mr. Uhlig's bookstore hosted Rochelle's very first book-signing event in 2001 when her Highlighted in Yellow title was released.
University of Wisconsin
Pennington has been a frequent lecturer at universities in Michigan and Illinois, as well as for several University of Wisconsin facilities, including multiple visits over the past ten years at UW-Green Bay. When she was invited back to the campus to present her “WWI Christmas Miracle” speech, her course filled to capacity immediately after being announced and 69 students asked to be placed on a cancellation list. Because of this, the event was repeated.
Comments from students who attended Rochelle’s presentation were forwarded to the author by the curriculum office of the University:
Beautifully presented, so moving. Spellbinding, Rochelle. Spellbinding. This was a great story told by a great storyteller. Outstanding program. Fascinating. Very well done. Fantastic artifacts. This presenter is amazingly well-informed. Bring her back. Rochelle’s preparation and knowledge are apparent to all who attend any of her programs. A very organized and interesting presentation delivered by a talented and effective speaker. Rochelle’s program of the WWI Christmas truce from her book “Christmas Gifts” was a gift in itself to those in the audience.
Above photo: Rochelle Pennington was honored to be invited to speak to Learning in Retirement members of the University of Wisconsin Parkside for their annual Christmas banquet.
It was a special honor for author Rochelle Pennington to speak to Board Officers and Key Women Educators of the Delta Kappa Gamma Society’s Alpha Beta Chapter of Washington County. This educational organization supports young, aspiring authors and illustrators in grades three through eight and funds scholarships for high school seniors seeking to enter the field of education.
Betty's Attic, America's premier catalog for retro memorabilia
Pennington’s holiday title, “An Old-Fashioned Christmas: Tinsel, Gingerbread Men and Raggedy Ann,” which details the Christmases of yesteryear between 1930 and 1960, was featured in the 2014 holiday editions of the nationally circulated Betty’s Attic catalog.
Additionally, “An Old-Fashioned Christmas” was featured in the Nov/Dec issue of “Tea Time Magazine.”
International Shipmasters Association Conference, Feb. 2014 United States Coast Guard Auxiliary Conference, Mar. 2014
Pennington presented her Endurance lecture in February 2014 at the International Shipmasters Association Annual Conference. She was referred to this organization by members the Great Lakes Captains Association after delivering a speech at their annual conference.
“Thank you, Rochelle, for making the presentation at the ISMA Grand Lodge Convention. We strive to make these conventions educational and informative. Your presentation certainly fit that perfectly and many conversations centered around the topic long afterwards. Respectfully yours,Captain Robert Schallip, 2014 Grand Lodge President, International Shipmasters Association”
“Thank you again for presenting at the Convention. EVERYONE loved it and talked about it for the rest of the convention. Stay in touch! Captain Mary Ann Schallip”
Pennington was further honored to be invited to deliver the keynote address at the annual United States Coast Guard Auxiliary Conference in March of 2014 on referral recommendations.
Daughters of the American Revolution State Convention, Madison, Wisconsin
Pennington delivered her “One Nation Under God” speech in Madison to members of the Wisconsin Chapter of DAR. It is the second time Pennington spoke at the State Convention in the past seven years.
Pennington presented her “World War I Christmas Miracle” in 2013 to patrons from 28 branches of the Cuyahoga County Library in Ohio. Her presentation was held at the library’s newest location during the facility’s grand opening week.
Pennington has presented hundreds of programs at libraries in many states over the past fifteen years.
Wheeling, West Virginia
Pennington delivered her “A Walk Down Memory Lane” speech in 2013 to members of the Woman’s Club of Wheeling, West Virginia at the historic Osiris Temple, and also delivered this same speech in 2013 to members of the Four Arts Club in Elkhart, Indiana.
Greensboro, North Carolina
Rochelle was deeply honored to accept the National Exchange Club’s invitation to speak at their annual convention. The National Exchange Club is America’s oldest service organization and is committed to the betterment of our communities, our families, and our country. The club promotes Americanism and is dedicated to teaching our country’s rich heritage through the distribution and display of our founding documents.
Rochelle Pennington was the keynote speaker at the National Exchange Club’s annual convention in Greensboro, North Carolina in 2013. Seven hundred members representing clubs from across America were in attendance.
The Peabody of North Manchester
Pennington presented her program “A Walk Down Memory Lane” in 2013 at The Peabody in North Manchester where she was welcomed warmly. She returned for a Christmas event.
“Hi Rochelle, I have had so much GREAT feedback regarding the program you did for us last week! The residents have not stopped talking about it since you left. Everyone enjoyed all of the memories your program brought back to them. They said to tell you that you deserve another round of applause for putting together such a wonderful program. Everyone is excited that you are coming back in December! We want to have you come back at least once a year—you do such a great job and really connect with your audience. We loved having and can’t wait to see you again! Thank you so much for all you did on Tuesday! Sarah Joy Morbitzer
Alumni Lifetime Achievement Award
In 2013, Pennington received a lifetime achievement award from her graduating high school for “gaining distinction in her field, offering an admirable example to students based on character and accomplishments, and contributing to her community of residence.” She was nominated by Mrs. Barbara York, her high school English teacher, who wrote to the judging committee:
“I believe Rochelle Pennington epitomizes that a strong educational foundation, an undaunting work ethic, a positive outlook on life, and an undying curiosity about interesting topics can lead to a successful and fulfilling career and life. Rochelle’s interest in history and her positive attitude have touched many lives throughout our state and nation. She is an accomplished, enthusiastic, and sought-out lecturer on the local, state, and national levels. What better example for today’s students to emulate?”
Photos above: Rochelle Pennington is pictured above left with her high school English teacher, Mrs. Barbara York, in 2004 at a book signing event, and on the right in 2013 at the awards ceremony.
La Crosse Public Library
Comments from Patricia Boge, Community Relations Coordinator: "La Crosse Public Library wholeheartedly endorses the talents of Rochelle Pennington. We had her deliver her program 'A Walk Down Memory Lane' to a rapt audience of over 90 older adults, many of whom were reluctant to let her pack up at the end of her presentation to leave. We plan to have her back again to do another one of her many offerings. For an entertaining and professional program, hire her! You'll be glad you did."
Update: Rochelle is scheduled to return to the La Crosse Public Library in 2015 and 2016. She previously presented programs in 2011, 2012, 2013, and 2014.
Menominee, Michigan Save the Lighthouse!
Pennington was honored to be invited to Menominee, Michigan in December of 2013 to present two of her nautical programs as a fundraiser to save the Menominee lighthouse. The special holiday event began as a joint effort between concerned citizens at the local yacht and country clubs, along with leaders at the local Economic Development Corp office, who hoped to restore the iconic landmark. Tickets to the event were sold at $50 each and over $15,000 was raised to begin work on the historic light. (See event flyer below.)
Soo Locks Boat Tours Dinner Cruise 50th Anniversary of the International Bridge
Soo Locks Boat Tours dinner cruise
What a memorable evening! Pennington presented her “Christmas Tree Ship” programin Sault Sainte Marie, Michigan to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the International Bridge connecting Canada and Michigan on June 28, 2012. Guests on board the dinner cruise were treated to a roast turkey feast with all the trimmings while their vessel was captained by “Santa Claus.” The event ended with a sky of fireworks as the bridge was illuminated from end to end.
UPDATE: Rochelle returned in June of 2013 to present two programs for guests on board the Soo Locks Boat Tours. Each of these evening dinner cruises included a themed feast.
Photo above by Andrew Kuehl, Editor and Publisher of The Statesman.
The Statesman announced Pennington's forthcoming book signing at The Candy Tree with the words, "These days Rochelle Pennington could use Santa's sleigh and reindeer to help her reach destinations where she is making personal appearances. Last week, the author signed books and spoke in three different states in four days." Rochelle is pictured with Chris Jung, owner of The Candy Tree.
St. Thomas Aquinas School
It has become “tradition” for Rochelle to visit St. Thomas Aquinas School and deliver her holiday Christmas Tree Ship program to students there. The photo above was taken in December of 2013 during Rochelle's visit.
“Rochelle, today’s presentation was again outstanding! The students were enthralled! They asked Mr. Rick if they could work on writing their play tomorrow so that they could remember everything you told them!" Carol Ewald, Director of Technology, St. Thomas Aquinas Parish School
The photo below was taken in December of 2013 at Blesch Intermediate School. Rochelle delivered her program on the legendary Endurance shipwreck to nearly 500 students.
News release: Pennington's title, "The Christmas Tree Ship," is now available in Braille. The launch of the new book was made possible by a generous donation by the Livonia Town Hall to Seedlings Braille Books for Children. The Livonia Town Hall is dedicated to philanthropy and chose Pennington's book as one of their 2012 service projects after the author delivered her lecture to members during the 2011 Christmas season.
Sheboygan Falls Historical Research Center
Pennington has returned repeatedly to the Sheboygan Falls Historical Research Center for many years to present programs to standing-room-only audiences.
Niagara Public Library
Rochelle Pennington with Bruce Darne, Director of the Niagara Public Library
Christmas came early to patrons of the Niagara Public Library when Pennington showed up with a sleigh full of vintage toys (a trunk full, actually) in October and presented her program “An Old-Fashioned Christmas.” Pennington's first visit to the library was in 2007.
Comments from Bruce Darne, Director:
"On October 16, 2012, Rochelle Pennington magically transported her audience at the Niagara Public Library back to Christmas past, specifically focusing on the ‘30s, ‘40s, and ‘50s. I highly recommend Rochelle for any of the presentations that she does. She is highly professional and delights audiences with her sparkling personality and deep knowledge of her subjects."
Phoenix, Arizona: Theater Works & Antigo Community Theater
Christmas 2012 Cast members of the Antigo Community Theater invited Rochelle Pennington to present her “Christmas Tree Ship” lecture on the eve of November 5, 2012 in the Volm Theater. Pennington’s event was held in conjunction with the theater group’s production of the musical “The Christmas Schooner,” based on the story of the Christmas Tree Ship. The musical was performed under the leadership of the group’s director, Moira Scupien. It is the second time Ms. Scupien has provided the artistic leadership of this musical for her community. (The first performances were held in 2007, at which time Pennington was also present to deliver her historical program about the ship featured in the musical.) Pennington’s evening presentation at the Volm Theater followed an all-day event with seven one-hour workshops for nearly 400 middle school students who were going to attend a special presentation of the musical the following day.
Pennington’s first out-of-state trip to present a “Christmas Tree Ship” program was in 2005 to members of another community theater during a “Christmas Schooner” musical production: “On her first trip to Arizona, Rochelle Pennington hopes to bring her love of the historical Christmas Tree Ship to West Valley residents. Theater Works’ CEO, Jack Lytle, is thrilled that the author is willing to share her expertise on the ship with his patrons. ‘It’s a wonderful, wonderful story,’ Lytle said. ‘It’s the kind of story that is passed down from generation to generation. I’m excited to get her out here and have her share some of that with the rest of the community.” Northwest Valley News, Peoria, Arizona December 2, 2005
North Point Lighthouse
Photo above: Peter Hirthe (left), President of Wisconsin Marine Historical Society, Rochelle Pennington, author, and John Enright (right), Curator Emeritus at North Point Lighthouse and Board Member of the Wisconsin Marine Historical Society, standing next to the 800-pound Milwaukee harbor fog bell that once served at the Milwaukee harbor entrance. Pennington presented her "Christmas Tree Ship" program at the historic lighthouse. Two of Pennington’s all-time favorite programs over the years were delivered at other historic Great Lakes lighthouses on stormy eves.
Christmas Tree Ship 100th Anniversary Chicago, Illinois
On Sunday, November 18, 2012, St. Pauls United Church in Christ in Chicago held an anniversary celebration to honor the loss of the Christmas Tree Ship and its captain, Herman Scheunemann, who was a much-loved member of this congregation a century ago. (The church name is spelled without an apostrophe in the German tradition.)
The archives at St. Pauls are filled with references to the many kindnesses and acts of generosity done by Captain Herman and Barbara Schueneman, as well as by their children.
Rochelle Pennington was honored to be present during the all-day festivities which included a memorial worship service, a musical, educational programs, historic exhibits, and a German feast.
The front and back covers of the church’s commemorative booklet are below.
Door County Maritime Museum
Rochelle Pennington returned in 2012 to speak at the Door County Maritime Museum, one of the most respected maritime facilities on the Great Lakes. It was the author’s fourth invitation to lecture for this organization during the past decade. It was her first non-nautical speech at the museum.
Door County Maritime Museum The museum's director is introducing Rochelle Pennington in the photo above.
Christmas Tree Ship 100th Anniversary Two Rivers, Wisconsin
Author Rochelle Pennington was a featured guest at the 100th anniversary celebration of the Christmas Tree Ship in Two Rivers, Wisconsin. Also in attendance was Eric Forsberg, one of America's foremost nautical painters. Forsberg's artwork on the Christmas Tree Ship is featured in Pennington's book "Christmas Gifts: Ten of the Greatest Ever Given." The author and the artist are currently collaborating on another forthcoming project titled "Greatest Shipwrecks of the Great Lakes," due for release in late 2016 or early 2017.
100th Anniversary Two-Day Celebration:
The Two Rivers commemoration event included a parade, a musical, a choral concert, a fisherman's feast, a wreath-laying ceremony, exhibits, a display of artifacts, and a reception of guest dignitaries. Rochelle Pennington is shown in the photo above left next to Dr. William Ehling. Dr. Ehling, age 82, a retired physician who traveled from central Illinois for the event, is the last surviving grandson of the original captain of the Christmas Tree Ship. He is standing beside the ship's wheel.
Rochelle has travelled to central Illinois each Christmas to spend time with the descendants of the original captain. The family "adopted" Rochelle over a decade ago when she was doing her research. Dr. Ehling reminds Rochelle always, "You are a daughter to me."
In the photo above right, the eldest great-granddaughter of Captain Santa of the Christmas Tree Ship, Barbara Ehling from Illinois, is shown furthest left, standing with (from left to right) Maggie Becker-Koeppe of Two Rivers, Wisconsin, Rochelle Pennington, and Laurel Jasmin of Manistique, Michigan. Laurel Jasmin is the Chairperson for the Christmas Tree Ship Advisory Committee in the State of Michigan. She and her team were directly responsible for the 2006 placement of the State of Michigan historical marker honoring the Christmas Tree Ship. Mrs. Jasmin stayed with the Pennington family during her three-day stay in Wisconsin. Maggie Becker-Koeppe was Chairperson of the Wisconsin 100th Anniversary Celebration in Two Rivers.
Clement Manor Center for Enrichment
Pennington returned to Clement Manor Center for Enrichment for the fifth year, this time to deliver her “Christmas Tree Ship” presentation to another packed audience.
The author worked with The Weather Channel in 2003 for a television special which featured the historic Yuletide ship. The Weather Channel’s production has aired nationally every Christmas since 2004 as their Storm Stories holiday offering. Pennington was interviewed multiple times during this previous documentary.
Chicago Christmas Tree Ship 100th Anniversary Chicago History Museum
Rochelle Pennington was one of the featured presenters at the Chicago History Museum’s centennial commemoration ceremony honoring the loss of the original Christmas Tree Ship in 1912.
Crivitz Elementary School
Rochelle Pennington was invited to present the Christmas Tree Ship story to the entire Crivitz Elementary School. The author presented back-to-back programs all day to hundreds of enthusiastic kindergarten through sixth-grade students. In the evening, she presented the story at a dinner banquet to Board members of the Crivitz Public Library, Board members of the Northeast Reading Council, and members of the Crivitz Women's Club.
Comments from Judith Marchewka, Northeast Reading Council Board member:
“It has been such a pleasure getting to know you, Rochelle, and having this experience. I also wanted to tell you what a wonderful connection you have with children of all ages, especially in making them feel that their questions and comments are truly important and special to your presentation. Our children will never forget how you made them feel. Merry Christmas!”
Photo above: Knights of Columbus community Christmas party for needy families
Pennington was honored to be invited to be a storyteller as part of the entertainment to over a hundred children at this annual gathering.
Parkview Middle School
250 sixth-grade students listened attentively to Pennington’s telling of the Christmas Tree Ship story. The author answered an entire hour’s worth of questions from the students following her speech.
The Blue Harbor Resort, located on the shores of Lake Michigan, hosted Pennington in 2012 for the telling of the Christmas Tree Ship legend to diners in their elegant Latitude 43 restaurant. Pennington’s podium was set in front of a massive wall of windows overlooking Lake Michigan where the waves were still rolling following a record blizzard which hit the day prior. She returned in 2013 and 2014.