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PennyMariePetersWilson May 26, 1946 – January 23, 2011

byGina Carrico

showon the road to theHeavens above.Her family and friends cele- brated her remarkable life on January 27th, in amoving service perfectly titled,Miss Penny’s Farewell Tourwhichwas SRO– I’msure she got a kick out of that.


Since the age of 3, Penny knewshe wanted to be an entertainer. Through the art of dance, she inspired many performers, like TerryWolter, recipient of the 2010 Tap Legend Award. Terry said, “Pennywas extremely dependable and a technician when it came to dancing. I followed her around andwanted to be just like her.”


A1964 graduate of SunsetHigh School, she set the bar high early on. Sally SoldoVeon remembered their friendly competitiveness in drill team,where a boutwith appendicitis stopped her frommaking the drill teamin their junior year. So she became the assistant to the direc- tor, and of coursemade the teameasily the next year.

Penny took dancing lessonswithBusterCooper at anOakCliff studio near SunsetHigh. Penny creditedBusterwith helping her to advance all theway toBroadway.Buster’s daughter, LeslieCooper, remembers Penny as her first tap teacher and babysitter.

Besides teaching dance, she performed and choreographedwith the Dallas SummerMusicals for 13 years,where shemet husbandNelson, during Fiddler on theRoof.Nelson shared a story at the service about their courtship – hewas part of the stage crewand use to leave notes for her on a prop that said “Detach Immediately” so shewouldn’t for- get and leave it attached to the prop during the show. Sometimes they were personal and sometimes just something tomake her laugh. Needless to say, this phrase came tomean something special to them both. Theymarried in 1982.

In 1980, Penny performed in theDallas SummerMusical production of Peter Panwith SandyDuncan, and later joined theBroadway revival of the showin 1991.David Storey, then 16 and “nervouslyworking” at DSMfor the first time, remembers that Pennywas like a secondmoth- er.Nowa dance instructor at Point ParkUniversity in Pittsburgh, he says, “I don't think she realizedwhat an impact she had onme and howmuch she helpedme become aman and learn to lovemyself.”

In 1998, “Miss Penny” as the kids in the cast called her, joined the PBS series, Barney&Friends as theChildren’s PerformanceDirector and Choreographer.DirectorBobWest, said, “She was a huge part of the creative force thatmadeBarney such a success. Shewas a formidable creative talent and a good friend.” Pennywent back toBroadwaywith Barney Live! atRadioCityMusicHall,whereBuster remembers that they had to add an extra showto accommodate the crowds.

Continued on page 12. DANCE!NORTHTEXAS a publication of the dance council of north texas vol. 14 • no. 2 may 2011 page 11

here is a newstar in the sky, one of the brightest. Penny PetersWilson has taken her

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