Pennecamp Family Celebrates at Key Largo’s Pennecamp Park - South Dade News Leader: Community News | South Dade News Leader | Miami Dade County

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Pennecamp Family Celebrates at Key Largo’s Pennecamp Park

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Posted: Thursday, July 5, 2018 11:15 am

In 1951, John Pennekamp, a longtime conservationist and member of the newly created Board of State Parks and Historic Memorials, addressed the Florida Legislature. The title and main topic of that speech was "playgrounds for all the people." His dedication and service to the state park system led Florida Governor Leroy Collins to name John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park in Key Largo in his honor.

Since Pennekamp gave this speech over 60 years ago, families have flocked to the parks to enjoy the incredible outdoor recreation options and the opportunity to experience amazing history and culture. Among those families is one that has a more personal connection to John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park.

Earlier this month, 34 members of the Pennekamp family gathered at the state park to celebrate the life of John D. Pennekamp Jr., son of the park's namesake, who passed recently at age 91. Like many families, often separated by distance or schedules, they found time to come together and

celebrate the life of an extraordinary person.

"Twenty-one years ago, we all gathered together at the park to celebrate the life of our mom, Dee Pennekamp," Tom Pennekamp, son of John Pennekamp Jr., said. "By going to the park, it allowed us the opportunity to reflect not only on the wonderful life of our dad and mom, but also the amazing accomplishments of our grandfather, John D. Pennekamp."

Tom spent a lot of time in Florida State Parks growing up. "As a child, my grandfather would take us down there to show off the park that he helped establish and teach us the beauty and value of our natural resources. He instilled in us a sense of responsibility to be good stewards for our


Tom is determined to pass down the same values to his own

children. "We enjoy all of the water activities available: scuba, snorkeling, canoeing, swimming," Tom said. He also makes sure they all learn about their family connection to the park. "We visit the nature trail where we have placed a bench in memory of our mom. Soon we'll replace the

existing plaque on the bench with both of our parents' names on it."

Share your park memories and stories with us on social media by using #EveryStampisAStory

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