Helga “Lollo” Pennewell
PRINCESS ANNE–Helga “Lollo” Lieselotte Pennewell, 84, died at Somerset Gardens in Princess Anne, Md., on Jan. 5, 2014.
An Eastern Shore resident for 52 years, Lollo was born to Alfred and Elsa Dallmann in Mühlhausen, Thuringia, Germany on April 1, 1929. She grew up in “East” Germany under Hitler’s rule, endured air raids and bombings, and lived through Soviet occupation.
A teenage champion swimmer, she was a member of her birth country’s Olympic swim team when the war prevented the 1944 Olympics. Lollo earned her bachelor’s degree in design and dressmaking at Staatliche Oberschuk in Mühlhausen, received her master’s in tailoring and design at Mode Academy in Kassel and modeled for European fashion houses through the late 40s and early 50s.
Shot in the leg during her first attempt to flee Russian occupation, Lollo and her family escaped East Germany in 1948. In 1951, she married then-Major Noah Ames Pennewell and, by 1961, became a full-time resident in his hometown of Snow Hill. Lollo obtained U.S. citizenship on Sept. 14, 1965 and voted to elect a national leader for the first time in 1966.
She soon began appearing area-wide at civic, community and professional club meetings, as well as in local schools’ civics classes, to speak about life “behind the Iron Curtain” and the importance of U.S. civil liberties. Within few years, under the sponsorship of Salisbury’s Samuel Chase chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution, Lollo became the first Maryland woman to receive the DAR Americanism Award, which honors distinguished naturalized citizens who demonstrate extraordinary patriotic leadership stateside. At that time in 1971, only one other Marylander had received this prestigious national award.
The ardent activist became a prolific writer in local, regional and national publications, and over the following years, her work expanded beyond civil freedoms to advocate conservation, education and historic preservation.
For decades, Lollo spearheaded multiple movements that created local resources, from the availability of emergency services and swimming instruction to the expansion and relocation of the Snow Hill branch of Worcester County Library. Across Maryland, she is well remembered as the organizer and leader of a march, known as the “Outhouse Convoy,” on the Annapolis state house to protest gubernatorial disrespect toward the Eastern Shore in 1991.
She was the first person in Snow Hill to organize local swimming lessons and taught them as a Red Cross volunteer. Lollo later served as swim team coach at Nassawango Country Club. She used her design and dressmaking skills to craft bridesmaid dresses for loved ones’ weddings as well as band and majorette uniforms for Snow Hill High School students and she taught sewing classes in Salisbury..
Lollo also served as director of the Eastern Shore Heart Association, president of the Worcester County Library Board, co-founder of the Republican club of Worcester County, member of the Worcester County Republican State Central Committee and alternate delegate to the Electoral College.
In 1983, President Ronald Reagan appointed Lollo to the Presidential Commission for the German-American Tri-centennial, which marked 300 years of German-American immigration. In this capacity, she helped plan, finance and implement installation of an extensive friendship garden on the Washington Monument grounds.
Lollo visited Germany many times prior to the country’s re-unification, but in 1989, she took her children to Berlin during Thanksgiving. Between the Brandenburg Gate and “Checkpoint Charlie,” she and her family members took turns hammering at the Berlin Wall, breaking their sledgehammer in this effort during the month that the wall “came down.”
Predeceased by her husband, Lt. Col. Noah Ames Pennewell; parents and sister, Brigitte Dallman Euling, Lollo is survived by her son, Milton Pennewell of Snow Hill; daughter and son-in-law, Sabine Pennewell and Bruce Nichols of Hebron; daughter, Brigitte Pennewell of Snow Hill; grandchildren, Brandy and Florian Meresse Pennewell, Katharine Pennewell, Annette Pennewell, Jackalynn Pennewell, Emily Nichols, Bethany Pennewell, Grace Pennewell and William Pennewell and great-grandson, Paul Pennewell.
Pennewell’s funeral service was held on Monday, Jan. 13 at Burbage Funeral Home in Snow Hill. A procession was at Nassawango Church Cemetery on Pennewell Road in Snow Hill.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations to a local humane society of your choice. Arrangements are in the care of the Burbage Funeral Home. s of sympathy may be sent to the family at www.burbagefuneralhome.com.