A Swing for Cindy

Cindy Penn, our mother, died on July 3, 2017, from metastatic cancer in Hancock, Upper Michigan, following a year-long struggle. Per her wishes, there will be no flowers, no funeral, no obituary, but we her children want to honor her memory by sharing with the world her favorite pastime: swinging on a park swing.

Ever since Mom could remember, she loved swings, and throughout her life took delight in a park with a great swing and dismay in a park that was missing one. We want to share this simple joy with others, friends and strangers, so we met with the City of Hancock far up the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, and they would be honored to raise a swing set in her memory.

The Upper Peninsula was home to Cindy's happiest memories.  As a girl, she and her family summered together in cabins on Lake Gerald, and she instilled a love for the UP in her children, taking us North each summer to eat pasties, roast s'mores, and splash in the lakes. In 2014, Cindy and her husband Walter John rewarded their lifetime of hard work with a cabin on Lake Gerald, just south of Hancock and dreamed of retiring there. Dad bought her a beautiful swing set where she could drop her rugged nursing persona and be a little girl again. She swung on that swing every day, and it made her happy. Tragically, the happy couple on the verge of freedom was only able to spend a few short summers at the cabin before cancer took her away from us.

Cindy was born in 1953 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, to a large and loving German Catholic family.  She embarked on a career as a nurse after college and dedicated her life to healing others. She worked in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit for much of her career, with the hard task of dealing with dying babies, and later worked in surgery recovery and radiology.

She was a loving and beloved mother to three children: Matthew (an ex-Marine and foreign aid worker), Leah (a biology teacher), and Joshua (a writer), all of whom share Mom's love of swing sets. Our mother dearly loved her own "Nana" and was overwhelmed with joy at the birth of Julie, her first grandchild. As soon as Julie could hold on to the chains, Nana taught Julie to love the swing.  This April she welcomed her second grandchild, Paul, into this world and would surely have done the same for him. 

With the support of her extended family and many friends and coworkers, we three children, and our children after us, and maybe even theirs will one day swing in the park in the beautiful little town of Hancock, overlooking Portage Lake. And we welcome all of you, should you find yourself in Hancock, to come have a swing as well!

All funds raised are fully tax-deductible as this project is at the behest of the City of Hancock, and with these funds we will erect a top-quality steel swing set that will last for decades. Should we be so fortunate as to have overage, we will augment the set with additional features like infant seats and landscaping.  If overages are far above, the City of Hancock would be delighted to place swing sets at as many parks and beaches as necessary so no child (or adult) ever need leave their town without a good swing.

We, her children, thank you all for your loving support, and hope you will honor her desires for no funeral or flowers, but will instead take joy in sharing a strong woman's simple love with the world, a love of swinging through the air, letting all cares go, and letting yourself be happy.
  • Cheri Lovell 
    • $60 
    • 56 mos
  • Dorothy Coombs 
    • $50 
    • 57 mos
  • Susan Smith  
    • $100 
    • 57 mos
  • Karen Smith Sellers 
    • $50 
    • 57 mos
  • Ashley Murphy 
    • $40 
    • 57 mos
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Leah PI 
Faribault, MN