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Locust Valley's Paul Pennoyer Jr., 89, a war hero, dies

Locust Valley native Paul Geddes Pennoyer Jr. not only distinguished himself in battle during World War II, but in civilian life he was a legal innovator, establishing an aviation department in a law firm where he worked.

Pennoyer, a descendant of J.P. Morgan Jr. and a friend of President John F. Kennedy, died Jan. 7 in Locust Valley of congestive heart failure. He was 89.

A grandson of J.P. Morgan, one of this country's most famous titans of international banking, Pennoyer served as a naval pilot and received the Navy Cross for extraordinary heroism for Air Group 28.

Pennoyer, a lieutenant, was attached to the USS Monterey light aircraft carrier and fought major units of the Japanese fleet during the first battle of the Philippine Sea on June 20, 1944. He also received an air medal for meritorious air strikes in the Solomon Islands in June and July 1943 and he received the Gold Starby then-Secretary of the Navy James Forrestal in September 1944.

He received a second Gold Star as a pilot of a torpedo bomber, and a third Gold Star for work as a pilot of a torpedo bomber in the Philippines May through December 1944. In March 1943, he spent a month crossing the Pacific Ocean on a supply ship with Kennedy, the future president who became Pennoyer's friend.

His family said another future president, Gerald Ford, also was on the USS Monterey serving as a physical education coach to Pennoyer and often trying to persuade Pennoyer, unsuccessfully, to develop a liking for basketball.

Pennoyer graduated from St. Paul's School and from Harvard College, where he was a varsity oarsman on the undefeated Harvard crew in 1941, and Harvard Law School, which he attended after his military service, which spanned 1942 to 1945.

He joined the law firm of Bigham, Englar Jones & Houston in Manhattan and created an aviation department. He later became a partner and principal litigator at Chadbourne, Parke, Whiteside and Wolf in Manhattan, where he spent the next 30 years handling antitrust, securities and federal agency cases. Pennoyer retired from that firm in 1992.

He penned an unpublished 168-page autobiography, "A Descendant, but Not an Heir," about growing up with J.P. Morgan, and his later life. He finished the book recently.

"He was very unpretentious," said his son, William, of Frankfurt, Germany. "He was very modest. He never boasted despite the incredible experiences he had."

Pennoyer is survived by Cecily, his wife of 61 years; two daughters, Jen Emerson of Concord, Mass., and Deirdre Nadai of Essex, Mass.; three sons, Paul T. Pennoyer of Essex, Mass., Sheldon Pennoyer of Greenfield, N.H., and William; a brother, Robert M. Pennoyer of Manhattan; three sisters, Virginia Livermore and Tracy Schilling of San Francisco, and Jessie Snyder of Shelburne, Vt.; and 10 grandchildren.

Services are 11 a.m. Saturday at St. John's of Lattingtown, Locust Valley. Arrangements are being made by Dodge-Thomas Funeral Home, Glen Cove.

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