Black Interests

Steny Hoyer Remembers Daryl Pennington: Guardian of the Community by Harold Bell


SEPTEMBER 19, 2020 (Photos courtesy Fred Shepard)

Washington, D.C., Prince George’s County and the country recently lost a true public servant, Daryl Pennington.  Congressman Steny Hoyer went to the House floor on Wednesday September 16th to disclose his friend and trusted community advocate for Prince George’s County’s 5th District, Daryl Pennington was called home to be with the Lord.

Daryl Pennington presents proclamation to me and Hattie at the Miracle Theatre November 24, 2019

Daryl was more than a community advocate to those she served in the name of Congressman Steny Hoyer. I have broken bread with some of the most powerful politicians in America–the good, the bad and the ugly. President Richard Nixon being at the top of the list, followed by Strom Thurmond (R-SC), Bob Dole (R-Kan), Lou Stokes (D-Ohio), Elijah Cummings (D-Baltimore), Congressman John Lewis (D-Ga), Walter Fauntroy (D-DC), Perrin Mitchell (D-Baltimore), Hank Johnson (D-Ga), and local politicians, Mayor Walter Washington (D-DC) and Mayor Marion Barry (D-DC), none were blessed with the likes of a Daryl Pennington on their team.

I was introduced to Daryl by her close friend Gloria Gaddy a community and senior advocate in Bowie, MD. over a decade ago. My wife Hattie and I were having a problem with the Social Security Administration and later a problem with a local bank. First, Congressman Hoyer made an inquiry by letter to the Social Security Administration (problem solved) and a telephone call to the local bank (problem solved). What made Daryl so special to me was sometimes weeks would go by and you would think she had forgotten and she would call and say, “Mr. Bell, I am on top of it.”  I can imagine her caseload was off the charts, but she always found time to reach out and reach back.

For example, it took me 45 years to edit an exclusive one-on-one 1974 interview (Rumble in the Jungle) with the undisputed Heavyweight Champion of the World, Muhammad Ali. I finally arranged to debut the documentary/interview on the big screen at the Miracle Theatre on Capitol Hill in NE Washington, DC, I invited Gloria and Daryl to my coming out party with Muhammad Ali.

In the meantime, Daryl brought my Ali project to the attention of Congressman Hoyer. On Sunday November 24, 2019, she read a proclamation from the stage of the theatre from the Congressman congratulating me on my historical accomplishment.

Daryl, was all over the place when it came to her friends and the constituents of Prince George’s County, When Gloria had her house warming last summer she was there. Gloria and her daughter Candi have a young man in their new home, their grandson and son, his name is Miles. He is a high school teenager and sometimes he strays a little off the beaten path, Daryl teamed up with Gloria and Candi as a mentor to help keep him grounded. I am sure there are dozens of other stories of her good works  in our community.

Candi Carter, HB, Myles Carter, Gloria Gaddy and Daryl Pennington

As we celebrate Daryl’s life I wish we could find a way to bottle her love and kindness for people and pass it around on The Hill. Thank you Congressman Hoyer for sharing Daryl Pennington with us, her light will continue to shine bright–gone too soon.  Peace and blessings.


“Madam Speaker, it is with profound sadness that I share the news that a great friend and public servant has passed away. Daryl Ann Pennington was a dear friend, trusted member of my staff, and a tireless advocate for Maryland’s Fifth District. For the past twelve years, Daryl served as a caseworker in my office in Greenbelt, Maryland, serving Prince George’s, Calvert, and Anne Arundel counties. Earlier, she had worked for former Maryland State Senator Ulysses Currie.  She knew the Fifth District and its communities better than almost anyone.

“And she cared deeply about the people who called, emailed and wrote to us asking for assistance with federal agencies and help accessing government services. In particular, Daryl was a fierce advocate for our district’s seniors. But she was also a mentor to countless young people, including interns who came to our district office and learned lessons from Daryl not only about serving our constituents but how to approach life through perseverance, faith, and positivity.

“Daryl drew heavily on her personal faith as a member of the Evangel Cathedral Church in Upper Marlboro for more than a quarter century and as a partner with Dr. Corinthia Ridgely Boone of the International Christian Host Coalition organizing the National Capital Region’s Day Of Prayer for many years. She believed strongly that prayer was a powerful tool – not only to connect with her Creator but to connect with others here on Earth, to communicate her love for others, and to spread peace and joy to those around her.

“Her sense of humor, her wit, and her warmth will all be sorely missed. I – and all of us who worked so closely with Daryl – will miss her very much. Daryl had so many spiritual daughters in the many young women who looked up to her over the years as a mentor and friend. But her pride and joy were her five children – Laura, Christie, Toi, Peter, and Lenny – as well as her grandchildren, to whom she was devoted.

“A native of Rochester, New York, Daryl made her final journey home in July, when she was diagnosed with multiple myeloma and departed Maryland to seek treatment closer to family at the University Of Rochester Medical Center. We had all hoped to welcome her back soon, but sadly Daryl’s condition worsened quickly last week, and she passed away on Saturday morning, with her family by her side.

“Daryl was a true friend and partner in service to the people of Maryland’s Fifth District. She will long be remembered by those she helped and by those of us who worked closely with her. Her passing is a great loss to my constituents, to our office, to this House, and to our country.

“I hope my colleagues will join me in offering her family the condolences of the whole house and the thanks of a nation grateful for patriotic Americans like Daryl Ann Pennington who serve their country and communities so dutifully.  Now, Daryl rests in peace with God, whom she served so faithfully throughout her life.”

Click here to watch a video of Congressman Hoyer paying tribute Daryl Pennington before Congress.



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