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OAC Remembers Board Member Penny Petrone

Dr. Penny PetroneIt is with sadness that we inform you of the sudden death of our Thunder Bay board member Dr. S. Penny Petrone.  Penny died on Monday, August 22 at Vancouver General Hospital after falling ill last week and undergoing heart surgery.    

Penny Petrone was a valued colleague to OAC board and staff members. Although she represented Ontario’s northwest at the Council table, her Thunder Bay roots were only part of the broad sphere of her experience and influence.  She was a vital member of Thunder Bay’s arts community where she had a long association with the Magnus Theatre Company. 

“Penny brought such humour and personal commitment to her work on the OAC board.  Her love of the arts was integral to so many aspects of her life.  It is sad to think that she won’t be with us at the next board meeting,” said Martha Durdin, OAC Acting Chair and Vice-Chair

“I loved Penny’s exuberance and obvious delight in her role at the Ontario Arts Council.  She felt deeply about the council’s commitment to Aboriginal artists and to theatres across the province.  Her perspective was informed by her own background and diverse interests.  Penny  was a generous host to OAC staff on their visits to Thunder Bay and a thoughtful colleague.  I am saddened by the news of her death,” said Julia Foster, former OAC Chair

“Penny cared deeply about the community she represented, Thunder Bay, and about Ontario’s northern Aboriginal communities.  We will miss her warm and gracious presence at our board meetings,” said John Brotman, OAC Executive Director

Dr. Penny Petrone was appointed to the board of the Ontario Arts Council on January 3, 2003. Dr. Petrone’s specific area of study was Aboriginal Literature in Canada.  She published numerous papers as well as several books on the subject including, Native Literature in Canada, First People, First Voices  and Northern Voices.  She taught in the English and Education Departments at Lakehead University from 1961 to 1989. But it was her first experience at the Stratford Festival, not long after its inception, that ignited a passionate devotion to theatre.  She went on to direct school plays during her years teaching high school and became an ardent supporter of Magnus Theatre Company. 

In 2002, she won the F.G. Bressani Literary Prize for her memoir Breaking the Mould.  In 1994, Dr. Petrone was given the Ordine D’Onore by the National Congress of Italian Canadians.  In 1992, she was awarded the Order of Ontario.  In 1984 she was made an honourary chief by the Gull Bay Ojibwa. S. Penny Petrone was Professor Emeritus of Education of Lakehead University.


For more information:  

Kirsten Gunter
OAC Communications Manager
416-969-7403 or 1-800-387-0058 ext. 7403

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