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Date of Passing: May 26, 2020

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It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of Clifford R. Pennington on May 26, 2020, at the age of 80, in the hospital in Petersburg, FL.
He is survived by his wife Phyllis; children, John, Tiffany, Lisa, Marnia, and grandchildren, Jeremiah, Justin and Nicolas. Cliff was predeceased by his parents, brothers, Midge, Ken and Ronnie, sister Margaret, and his son Jean-Marc.
Cliff grew up in River Heights in Winnipeg and attended school at Queenston and Kelvin High where he developed various athletic skills, in particular hockey skills at Sir John Franklin Community Centre which eventually took him away from Winnipeg for the rest of his career.
Hockey was the main event, he was a prolific goal scorer. At age 16 he started playing Junior with the St. Boniface Canadians, the next year he moved to Flin Flon Bombers of the Saskatchewan Junior League and lead the league in scoring. He was then drafted by the Montreal Canadiens and played in Hull Ottawa and was among the top scorers in their league. The next season he decided to play for the Canadian Olympic team (1960) and won a silver medal at Squaw Valley. The following year he played four games with Montreal Canadiens and was moved to the Boston Bruins for a year and a half. He played 12 more years with various teams in the pro leagues in the USA.
He was inducted into the Manitoba Hockey Hall of Fame in 2005. His athletic ability was not confined to hockey. When attending Kelvin he was a city all-star in football and basketball. At age 16 he played soccer for United Weston (Winnipeg) in the Western Canada Finals and also played baseball on teams that won city championships and he participated in competitions in tennis, golf, etc.
Cliff always maintained contact with his Winnipeg friends through a group called the Blossom Boys, of which he was a founding member in 1953. These athletic guys would meet at Blossom Park (Sir John Franklin) on weekday evenings and weekend afternoons to play touch football and sit under a huge elm tree telling stories and jokes. This group has had reunions approximately every 10 years, more frequent recently and Cliff played his final ball hockey game last year at age 79.
A private family service will be held in St. Petersburg, FL, where he resided for the last 45 years. A small memorial Celebration of Life will take place next month at Blossom Park.

As published in Winnipeg Free Press on May 30, 2020

Condolences & Memories (8 entries)

  • It is with a heavy heart that I just find out that Cliff Pennington passed away. I was very close to Jean-Marc while the Pennington family was living in Pointe-aux-Trembles (now Montréal). Jean-Marc was one of my closest friends. We played numerous hockey game (iced and street). We had so much fun, JM talking in French and myself in English. When Cliff was in town, we played baseball altogether. I remember Cliff throwing curved balls at me. I thought that curved ball (and even drop ball) didn’t exist till Cliff threw a couple at me. I wish my deepest condolences to the family (Lisa, Marina and her mum, Phyllis). If anyone can contact me (514 386 3869 or, I really would like to know what happens to JM. Merci and sorry for my rusty English writing. - Posted by: michel osborne (Friend of Jean-Marc (Cliff's son)) on: Feb 14, 2022

  • I’m very sorry to read of Cliff’s passing. I met him through his son, Jean Marc, when we were boys. The family moved to Montreal (Pointe-Aux-Trembles) when we were 7-8 year old. Jean-Marc joined our class (St-Charles School) after the school year began and stood out, especially with his very heavy American southern accent. I’m sorry to also read that JM passed away. Can anyone tell me what happened to him? We were very close through Junior and High School. - Posted by: Daniel Veniez (Childhood of Cliff’s son, Jean Marc) on: Jul 29, 2021

  • Cliff was a fun guy to hang out with at the track. I am sorry to hear of his passing and will miss him. - Posted by: Racetrack Al Park (Friend Fellow dog and horse player) on: Jun 22, 2021

  • A special guy who got things done, who answered every letter the fans sent him and paid for the stamps on many occasions when they forgot to put the stamp on their request. He loved it. I'm a big family friend and also as fellow professional sportsman in England and the USA who truly relates to the greatness of this man. All I can say there was no one quite like him. A dear and a special friend who will be sorely missed by everyone, especially me. I will do my utmost to visit whatever event, function or gathering to celebrate my friend Clifford's life. With my my utmost love and respect for Clifford and the entire Pennington family I await the gathering and can't wait to show my respect for all the fantastic times we shared, and we have had many, many, many....all I can say is I miss you - love and happiness to all you left behind for the great memories both you gave us will never be forgotten Colonel, love from the Brit! - Posted by: Donald Shanks (Friend) on: Aug 24, 2020

  • We are deeply saddened to learn of Cliff's passing. Charlotte grew up in River Heights where she attended school and was friends with Cliff. She has always had a soft spot in her heart for Cliff. He had a strong personality that drew people to him with most remaining friends for life. While I knew Cliff as a friend and outstanding athlete it is mainly through his longtime friends that I learned to know Cliff on a personal level. Talking with them one couldn't fail to understand how he impacted their lives. Cliff was truly an iconic athlete and personality. Our condolences to Cliff's family, friends and specifically to the Blossom Boys...we have lost a good one. RIP, Cliff. - Posted by: John & Charlotte Rendall (friends) on: May 30, 2020

  • The news I received last week about the passing of my uncle really upset me...over the recent years I’ve been in his company and spoke quite regularly on the phone. He met my grandsons a few years ago at my dad (his brother’s) funeral in Winnipeg. He signed a couple of hockey cards for them. Even as a kid, I wore his previously worn NHL skates. I have always been a Boston Bruins fan and frequently talked to him about the team. I will really miss him. All my love to Aunty Phyllis and my cousins. ❤️❤️ - Posted by: Chris Pennington (Nephew) on: May 30, 2020

  • Cliff was a great friend and racing mentor at the greyhound track. We spent many wonderful afternoons at Derby Lane St. Petersburg and it was amazing to watch Cliff in action. His knowledge of the greyhounds was unparalleled and I have a great story to share - On the day we had our photo taken, we missed a $13,580.20 Superfecta by 1 number! Although we only played a 10 cent super vs a $1.00 Super, the payout was still nice at $1,358.02. That was an exciting day! Another story - Cliff was in the hospital a couple of weeks ago and didn't have a way of watching or even hearing the races. So, he called me up and asked, "Mikey, can you figure out a way for me to hear Jim Peake announce the races today?" I said "Sure thing buddy!" and proceeded to place my phone beside the TV which I had hooked up to the Greyhound Channel. He was so happy and I was so glad to have been able to bring him some joy that week. Cliff is also remembered by hockey fans who still remember the good old days. Some info written about him at the following links: - Posted by: Mike Kaye (Friend and racing enthusiast) on: May 30, 2020

  • Cliff and I played on the same Kelvin Football team but our main encounters were at touch football games at Blossom Park. Cliff played for the Sir John Franklin Community Club team whilst I played for River Heights. The highlight games were played on New Years Day. Damn cold, very competitive and always fun. Cliff was an amazing athlete who loved all sports including horse racing. I used to enjoy listening to the arguments about horse racing between Cliff and Doc McCollough (a Kelvin teacher) and Cliff. Doc McCollough was perhaps Cliff's biggest fan. Cliff was a Kelvin legend. - Posted by: Jim Fenwick (Football teammate and member of opposing team at Blossom Park ) on: May 30, 2020

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