William Pencek Sr.

[ Age 84] The decorated D-Day veteran and accountant worked for several firms after moving to Baltimore.

April 22, 2007|By Brent Jones | Brent Jones,Sun Reporter

William John Pencek Sr., a retired accountant and decorated World War II veteran, died of cancer Thursday at his home in Baltimore. He was 84.

Mr. Pencek was drafted into the Army Air Forces in 1944 and was assigned to the infantry as the Allies prepared for the invasion of Europe. After basic training at Camp Wolters in Mineral Wells, Texas, he was sent to Camp Kilmer, N.J., and boarded a troopship to Liverpool, England.

After a rough trip across the English Channel, Mr. Pencek and his squad landed on Omaha Beach on D-Day, June 6, 1944. Mr. Pencek was wounded and was hospitalized in London.

He earned a Purple Heart and the Bronze Star for his combat experience. His family says Mr. Pencek's memories of the war became more vivid as he became older. "The smallest details became very real in those later years," his son, William John Pencek Jr., said.

While recovering in London, Mr. Pencek was an extra in the English movie "I Live in Grosvenor Square."

"He was in a group scene," his son said. "We gave him a copy of the film. It was one of his recent Christmas presents."

Mr. Pencek was born in Scranton, Pa., the ninth of 11 children of first-generation Polish immigrants. He graduated from Scranton's Central High School in June 1940.

After a summer at Scranton-Lackawanna Business College, Mr. Pencek joined his older brother, Edward, who had come to Baltimore for work. Just before his 18th birthday, Mr. Pencek moved in with Edward in a boardinghouse . Three days later, Mr. Pencek began work as a clerk at the Nicholas Reiter Co., a wholesale grocer.

In February 1941, he was hired by Bendix Radio and became a project manager for the firm. Working the 4 p.m.-to-midnight shift allowed Mr. Pencek to take courses at the Johns Hopkins University in aerial mapping and surveying.

Mr. Pencek received an honorable discharge in February 1946 at 23. Returning to Baltimore and Bendix Radio, he took advantage of the GI Bill to enroll at the University of Maryland, College Park.

During the summers, he worked at the Social Security Administration. At a dance in 1947 at Mount Vernon's Alcazar Hotel, he met his future wife, the former Margaret Shirley Hopkins. They married in 1949.

"I liked him first, and it took him a little while," Mrs. Pencek said. "He always said I treated him well."

After two years at the University of Maryland, Mr. Pencek began work as an administrator for Pennsylvania Water and Power Co., whose headquarters were in the Baltimore Gas & Electric Co. Building at Liberty and Lexington streets.

Mr. Pencek completed a correspondent degree program in accounting from LaSalle's extension university. He worked as controller of Maryland Steel Products Co. at Bush and Ridgely streets for more than 20 years.

After leaving that firm, Mr. Pencek worked with Belfort Instrument in Canton and Fells Point until retiring in 1988. In retirement, he enjoyed attending the theater.

For more than 60 years, Mr. Pencek was an active member of Emmanuel Lutheran Church, 929 Ingleside Ave. in Westview Park, where services will be held at 11 a.m. tomorrow.

Survivors also include another son, Robert C. Pencek of Glenwood; a daughter, Margaret S. Brody of Davis, Calif.; and four grandchildren.

brent.jones@baltsun.com

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