David Michael Pennington, 64, died suddenly Friday, Dec. 5, stunning the trucking industry supplier community and press corps.
Pennington, Fernandina Beach, Fla., was senior counselor/managing director of PenNotes LLC, through which he offered publicity writings services as well as freelance writing for trucking and automotive publications.
Known as Mike, he worked for Meritor from 1985 to 2010, when he retired as senior director, global marketing communications and industry relations. He remained a familiar figure in the industry as he continued to manage projects for Meritor's aftermarket operations and was involved in numerous industry projects.
He was out with his wife, Patsy, on Friday when he collapsed from an apparent heart attack.
Pennington, started his trucking industry career as editor of Southern Motor Cargo magazine, where he worked for 13 years before going moving into public relations at what was then Rockwell Automotive, the company today known as Meritor.
He loved the trucking industry and was active in many organizations. He was heavily involved in ACT 1, the Allied Committee for the Trucking Industry, of which Meritor was a corporate member, serving recently as president of that organization. In the past year he has been involved in the new industry image program, Trucking Moves America Forward.
Pennington was vice chairman of the American Trucking Associations' Communications & Image Policy Committee. He was involved in the Trucker Buddy International trucker-classroom pen-pal program, Truck Writers of North America, Heavy Duty Aftermarket Week, and New Aftermarket Leaders of Tomorrow. He was a big proponent of mentoring young journalists and others in the industry.
He was honored with numerous awards during his career. The Truck Writers of North America named him Communicator of the Year in 2006, gave him a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2008, and the Extra Mile Award in 2008.
Pennington grew up in Memphis, Tenn., and earned a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism from the University of Memphis in 1972. In high school he worked part-time at The Commercial Appeal in Memphis.
In addition to trucking, his interests included golf, nature and wild animal photography, and Detroit Tigers baseball.
Friends took to Facebook to express their loss. Words like "gentleman" and "class act" were common. They spoke of Pennington's candor and honesty, his kindness and courtesy, his Southernisms, and his willingness to go the extra mile to help others.
Rolf Lockwood, Today's Trucking, posted a photo of himself and Pennington and their respective wives years ago at the Detroit Auto Show. "A gentleman of the very first order, to say he'll be missed is to understate things dramatically."
Doug Condra, retired longtime editorial director at Newport Business Media, former publishers of Heavy Duty Magazine and Truckinginfo.com, said of his friend: "His friendship was one of a kind: He gave you his all and asked nothing in return. It was all done with impeccable honesty, integrity, morality and his great love of people. He never wavered from that and we are all the better for having known him."
A Celebration of Life will be held Friday, Dec. 12, 2014, at 11 a.m. at The Amelia Island Club, 5 Ocean Club Drive, Amelia Island, FL 32034. The Omni Hotel at Amelia Island is offering villa rates for those wishing to stay overnight. Contact Romi Woodin at (904) 491-4700 to make arrangements.
(Update adds information on memorial service.)