LUMBERTON — Raymond Pennington, a Hall of Famer at The University of North Carolina at Pembroke and an institution in his hometown of Lumberton, has died at the age of 83.
Pennington, who had been in ill health for many years, had been living in Wesley Pines.
Ray Pennington was born in Greensboro, said Scott Pennington, the former mayor’s son. He was married to Shirley Cook Pennington, who died in December 2014.
Ray and Shirley had two children: Scott and a daughter named Jeri.
“The family appreciates all the thoughts and prayers,” Scott said. “My father was very dedicated to Lumberton and Robeson County, and it was his pleasure to serve the people of Robeson County.”
Ray Pennington served as Lumberton’s mayor for 20 years. Before that he served on the Lumberton City Council for four years.
While at UNCP, Pennington was director of athletics from 1984 to ‘98. During his tenure Braves athletes were awarded All-America status 39 times, and UNCP teams won more than 20 conference and district championships. He also oversaw the school’s transition from NAIA to NCAA status, which culminated in 1992.
Pennington came to UNCP after serving two seasons as an assistant football coach at East Carolina University, his alma mater, in the early 1960s. He was a charter member of UNCP’s Braves Club who received his master’s degree from the University of North Carolina and completed his Ph.D. at Duke University.
In June 2017, “Ray Pennington Day” was held at UNCP to honor the man who dedicated 40 years to the university as a coach, professor, and athletic director. Inside the English E. Jones Center, event organizers unveiled the naming of the Dr. Raymond B. Pennington Baseball Locker Room.
More recently, the city of Lumberton renamed Northeast Park to Raymond B. Pennington Athletic Complex.
The Robesonian will update this story at robesonian.com and in Friday’s print edition.
Ray Pennington is shown at The University of North Carolina at Pembroke’s English E. Jones Center in June 2017 when the Dr. Raymond B. Pennington Baseball Locker Room, named in his honor, was unveiled.