October 20, 1931 ~ September 1, 2019

Born in: Asheville, NC
Resided in: Asheville, NC

James Etheridge “Jim” Penley passed away September 1, 2019, at the North Carolina State Veterans Home in Black Mountain, NC. He was a son of the late Elbert Jesse Penley and Ella Louise “Susie” Jones Penley. He was also preceded in death by his wife, Pantha Vashti Houser Penley; daughter, Tye Penley Johnson; and siblings Woodrow Penley and Pauline Penley Mayo. Surviving are his son, John Rhodes Penley, and daughter, Jaime Susann Penley.

Born October 20, 1931, in West Asheville, Jim came from very humble beginnings. He was a standout athlete in his youth. In junior high, he was a member of the Millard-Fletcher Mighty Mights, a team which excelled in their active years. He went on to play baseball and football at Lee Edwards High School before joining the United States Marine Corps, serving in the Korea Conflict.

The GI Bill allowed him to continue his education. Inspired by his coaches and teachers, he went on to become those himself. After two years at Asheville-Biltmore College, he graduated from Western Carolina College and began his career, first as a coach and teacher at Hall Fletcher Junior High School. He went on to serve as principal at Hill Street Elementary School, South French Broad High School and South French Broad Junior High, before retiring as an associate of the Asheville City Schools Administration Offices.

After retirement, he took his wife Pantha wherever she wanted to go, from the Carolina beaches and all across the US, to Hawaii and Alaska, to England and Scotland, Denmark and Russia.

Graveside services will be held at Ashelawn Gardens of Memory on Friday, September 6, at 11:00 a.m.

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Winter Fuel Fund at Trinity United Methodist Church, 587 Haywood Rd., Asheville, NC, 28806.


Graveside Service: September 6, 2019 11:00 am

Ashelawn Gardens of Memory
901 Aiken Road
Asheville, NC 28804


Funeral Home Assisting The Family:

Groce Funeral Home - Patton Ave.
1401 Patton Ave.
Asheville, NC 28806


View current weather.

Memories Timeline

View the Timeline
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.


  1. Coach Penley was one fine person, a very likeable role model, and will always be prominent in so many of our good Hall Fletcher memories. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family. Bill & Denese Roseborough

  2. Coach was a wonderful West Asheville multi-talented athlete who was a great leader and inspiration to all who had the privilege of knowing him. He will be missed.

  3. James Penley was a truly good friend of mine from Junior High on through our lives as we both were married to our lifetime mates and shared picnics and fellowship with both families together. He was a very good school principal, and later a school official and a good Christian and loving father to his children and a good and loving husband to Pantha. It was a blessing to know him these many years and share experiences with his family.

    • Jim was for me a teacher and principal and coach in my junior high years. He told me that my baseball pitches were so slow, anybody could hit me, so I came from Lee Edwards to Hall Fletcher to pitch batting practice and boost the confidence of his baseball team. As an adult, any time I needed to be pepped up, I’d run by school to hear his encouragement. I got to be with him when he was hospitalized but left his room encouraged myself. He took special interest in what was happening in my life and always left me feeling better about myself than when I got there. We enjoyed hunting grouse together with his beloved dog, Sally. I was honored to have Jim and Pantha as my insurance clients for many years and invited them to join my family at my retirement dinner. He was such a caring, kind, considerate man who showed his faithful love to his wife and family and church and also to me. His smile will be missed.

  4. Prayers for the Penley children. The Lord has welcomed Jim into his loving arms saying “Well done, Thou good and faithful servant”.

  5. Rest in peace Mr. Penley. Thanks for all you taught me when I worked for you during the summers. My condolences to you the Penley family. You are in my prayers. He was such a great & kind man.

  6. Coach was an outstanding mentor to many of us young boys attending Hall Fletcher Jr High. I fondly remember his enforcement of the dress code. Young men had to have their shirts tucked in and if we had facial hair we were required to shave. He went so far as calling his wife one morning and making me walk up to his house near the school to shave. We had a few laughs about that years later. I appreciated his sincere interest in my positive development. Many of our lives were made better by having Coach Penley’s involvement in those early years.

  7. Jim was for me my teacher and principal and football, basketball and baseball coach. He told me my baseball pitches were so slow, anyone could hit them, so I went from Lee Edwards to Hall Fletcher to pitch batting practice and boost the confidence of his team. As an adult, whenever I needed a boost, I would run by the school to see Coach Penley. I visited him in the hospital, but left there being encouraged myself. He would always be so interested in what was happening in my life. I was honored to have Jim and Pantha as my insurance clients, and when I had my retirement dinner they joined our family for the event. He was truly a role model for me as a faithful husband and friend and church member. His contagious smile will certainly be missed.

  8. Jaime, Always liked your dad and thought he was a kind man. My daddy and your daddy were buddies. I know they went on at least one mission trip together for the church. Love to you.


Sign the Guestbook, Light a Candle

Sign the Guestbook