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Diamond Jubilee of the Ohinemuri County 1885 - 1945

The Late Mrs. Mary Pennell

In the articles that appear on these pages we have not tried to describe the hardships of the pioneers, lest our pen should not do them justice. Toiling over tracks and muddy roads, men and women of the early days suffered alike, and were forced to go without most creature comforts. They lived in impoverished homes, some of them for many years, far from old friends and comparative ease and elegance; but the common difficulties brought them new and firm friends, and although they lacked many things that make the way of life smoother, they were a happy people.

Nothing was thought of walking for miles to help when the call came. There have been many instances of a life being devoted to the service of others, but perhaps the light that shines brightest is that shed by that grand old lady — the late Mrs. Mary Pennell. Long before there were any doctors on the field she strove to help her sisters in the hour when they were in the Valley of the Shadow, that they might give life to others. No distance was too great, nor any obstacle too big, for Mrs. Pennell. Not for money did she do her good deeds. To help another was to her ample reward. That desire to help clung to her to the last, and she died helping others during the great epidemic of 1918, a very old lady, full of years and honour. Hundreds subscribed to a monument to her self-sacrifice, endowing a ward in the Paeroa Maternity Hospital which is known as the Mary Pennell ward.

Of such stuff were the pioneers made.

Many members of her family still reside in Paeroa.