Lewis Frederick Penny died in Northallerton on the 10th of August, 2000, just before his 80th birthday, after a long illness. Born in London and educated at Oundle, he decided to follow both his geologist grandfather and father (Chief Geologist of Trinidad Leaseholds), entering Trinity Hall, Cambridge, in 1939. One year later he was on a troopship bound for India with a commission in the Rajputana Rifles. Serving in Persia and with Iraq Force, by 1945 he was in Singapore de-briefing prisoners of war. Returning to Cambridge, he took a first in both parts of the Natural Science Tripos in 1949. Meanwhile, he had married Mary, and first Catherine was born, followed later by three brothers. Appointed Head of the Sub-Department of Geology at University College Hull in 1949, he inherited one wooden hut, one technician, one English and two African students, followed by a new intake of 18 students and a newly appointed Assistant Lecturer. In the same year, he began his long and distinguished association with this Society.
He rightly decided that students and teaching should take priority over personal advancement and research, arguing that only by producing good, well rounded, well trained, employable graduates would the Department gain a reputation for excellence. His insight paid off and his graduates were always readily accepted by mining and oil companies and by geological surveys that were then their main destinations.
Teaching the full London University Honours Degree, as well as one and two-year service courses for other Departments, involved at least 22 to 25 hours of formal teaching per week. This was in addition to administration and building-up map and specimen teaching collections. As an excellent Department Head with great wisdom and humour, he shielded his junior staff from administrative chores as much as possible. Thus, he was able to facilitate their research in the limited available time. His own meticulous, detailed research on the Quaternary enabled him to show that the Ice Age in East Yorkshire ended c. 18,000 years ago, not 50,000 as previously thought.
With a 'shoestring' budget, the first Easter Field Excursion to Shropshire was by train and bicycle. In 1954, he successfully took the Sub-Department to full independent status coupled with all the drafting of courses and syllabi consequent on Hull attaining full University status. The Department developed an esprit de corps unrivalled in the University. All this time, Mary proved an ideal Head of Department's wife and, during term time, students were invited round to tea at 94 Newland Park on Sunday afternoons. It was always a pleasure to visit them and to enjoy their company, and to view the 'cricket pitch'. Time and time again, old students and staff alike remarked that it was a very happy Department.
By the end of the 1950s, he had built up the Department to parity with other provincial universities. In creating a chair in 1962, the University brought in an outside candidate giving rise to a strong feeling of injustice both among his own staff and more widely outside. He accepted the decision with dignity and his peers soon refuted the University's lack of faith. He proved an excellent and popular President of this Society (1963-1964) and his two Presidential Addresses were a model of lucidity; the printed version is still regarded as the authoritative account of the Quaternary of the East Riding. He was a founder member of the Quaternary Field Study Group, and its first Secretary/Treasurer (1964-1968). This group later became the Quaternary Research Association, which elected Lewis as its second President (1971-1973). The success and smooth running of the Birmingham 1977INQUA meeting owed much to his work as its Treasurer. His administrative ability made him Honorary Secretary of the Yorkshire Naturalists Trust (1968-1972), and he was Secretary of the first Geological Society Working Group on Quaternary Correlation in Britain, co-authoring its definitive report (1973). Cambridge University awarded him a doctorate on the basis of his published research, the University of Helsinki its Quaternary Research Medal (1973) and our Society the Sorby Medal (1979). A genus and species were named in his honour. Hull Geological Society made him a life member and, such was his standing with Quaternary research workers, that on retirement he was honoured by a specially written Festschrift of Quaternary essays.
In 1980, after 31 years service to the University, Lewis retired as Senior Lecturer, and he and Mary went to live in Northallerton, where they enjoyed spending time with their family. They regularly visited their two children who had settled in New Zealand, and pursued their interests in gardening, ecclesiastical architecture and walking in the Dales. Lewis was no mean flautist, and his love of music was conveyed to two of his sons who took up musical careers. His fine sense of humour was remarked on by all who knew him, and the sadness of his passing will be tempered by many memories of happy encounters and time spent in his company.