Former Xenia mayor remembered by friends

By Scott Halasz -

XENIA — She’s being described as a classy lady, thorough, and friendly.

But most of all, Phyllis Pennewitt is considered as an absolute ambassador for the City of Xenia.

Pennewitt, who served on city council for 10 years, which included a stint as mayor, died Jan. 12. Her legacy is one of love for her town.

“She absolutely was a promoter of the City of Xenia and the things the city of hospitality has to offer,” said Gazette columnist Larry Moore. “She was constantly working out, what she thought, was the best way to promote Xenia as a place to work, play, and recreate. When she was in office, she was all about doing the right things for the City of Xenia. She was always, I felt, a classy and gracious lady. I liked her a whole lot.”

Seemingly everyone who came in contact with Pennewitt, 82, felt the same way.

“She was the one that really talked me into running for mayor,” said Marsha Bayless, who had an eight-year run as mayor end in 2017. “One of the things that I respect the most is that she would go with her heart and to support somebody that she didn’t really know that well. She looked past color and could see the good in me. Martin Luther King Jr., is known for his famous speech which included ‘I look to a day when people will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character. I think that even Dr. King is rejoicing for the life of Phyllis Pennewitt.”

Pennewitt was born in Xenia, graduated from Xenia High School and attended Wright State and Antioch universities. She was inducted into the Greene County Women’s Hall of Fame in 2015.

It was a well-deserved honor as she continuously gave back to the area. In addition to serving as a councilmember and mayor, Pennewitt volunteered for numerous duties including: XACT Board of Directors, Child Conservation League, for which she served as president; Xenia Adult Recreation and Services Board of Trustees; CASA; Greene County Historical League; Greene Memorial Hospital, and the Business and Professional Women’s Club. She also served as chairperson of the Xenia Board of Zoning Appeals, Board for Recreation, Arts and Cultural Activities, Greene County Regional Planning Committee, Xenia Area Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors, Golden Age Senior Citizens Board of Trustees, and Mayor’s Association of Ohio.

Pennewitt also founded the Meet Me at the Station program and ran it for 10 years, teaching more than 4,000 third graders local railroad history. She was also the co-founder of the Xenia Rail and Arts Fest.

While on council, Pennewitt never made snap decisions.

“I recall Phyllis as being very thorough and specific,” said council clerk Michelle Johnson. “She asked a lot of questions. She was a great person to serve the city and represent the city.”

Religion was important to Pennewitt as well.

She was a member of the Faith Community United Methodist Church for 68 years, where she served as pre-school coordinator, co-chair of the Mission/Peace Advocate Commission, and a member of the Pre-Administrative Board.

“For me, she was everything that God wants us to be,” Bayless said. “She loved her neighbor as she loved herself.”

Funeral services will be held to celebrate her life 11 a.m. Saturday, Jan. 20 at Faith Community United Methodist Church, 100 Country Club Drive. Visitation will be held 10 a.m. until the time of service at the church. She will be privately interred with her husband Donald Pennewitt at Valley View Memorial Gardens.

By Scott Halasz

Contact Scott Halasz at 937-502-4507.

Contact Scott Halasz at 937-502-4507.