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Neil the jeweler had passed away

I’ve had some off-list contacts with Neil over the years. I’d go so
far as to say we became friends, without ever meeting. Lately I’ve
noticed his absence here on Orchid, and thought I’d pop him a note
to see if everything is OK. So, I Googled and what I got was this:

Sad to say. Now, it’s a fact that it ~could~ be a different Neil. No
family member called me and told me, and I am profoundly sorry if
somehow Iam misguided.

But he was in Darien, his store was called “Neil the Jeweler”, and
his wesite is closed, too.

Neil MacArthur Pennell, 57, downtown’s ‘Neil the Jeweler’

Neil MacArthur Pennell of South Salem, N.Y., known in downtown
Darien as “Neil the Jeweler,” died Friday, Feb. 25, in South Salem.
He was 57.

Born May 26, 1953, in Edinburgh, Scotland, he was the son of the
late Arthur Pennell and Hannalore Thomsen.

Mr. Pennell graduated from Darien High School in 1971. He was owner
of Neil the Jeweler, which is downtown, just off the Post Road.

Mr. Pennell’s original Darien jewelry shop was in Goodwives Shopping
Center but high rents forced him to close. He moved to Florida for a
while before returning after a friend found the 10’ by 14’ space off
the Post Road, behind the Helen Ainsen Shoppe. He called it “the
best spot I have ever had,” in a 2007 interview with The Darien

“Over 30 years ago, I worked with my hands, restoring in Wilton the
home of actress June Havoc,” Mr. Pennell said in that 2007 interview
with Lou Volpicelli. “I learned early that my hands were not
qualified to do such manual labor so I decided to use my hands in a
different way. I was and still am fascinated by tinkering with
jewelry. So, for the past 30 years, I practiced my art as a

He is survived by his three children, Christine Pennell of
Arlington, Va., Cynthia Pennell of Danbury and Brien Pennell of
Norwalk; two brothers, Hans Pennell and Norman Pennell of Beaverton,

A private service was held for family members at the Edward Lawrence
Funeral Home in Darien on Tuesday, March 1, with the Rev.
Christopher P. Leighton of St. Paul’s Church in Darien presiding.

Memorial donations may be made to the American Heart Association, 5
Brookside Drive, PO Box 5022, Wallingford, CT 06492.

Oh my this is so sad, He was a great Orchid member. I will miss him.


James Binnion
James Binnion Metal Arts

Oh John, I am so sorry to hear this. What a terrible loss for his
family, for his community and ours. Neil has shared so much on
Orchid over the years. I am so grateful to have been able to learn
from him. This makes me very sad. Thank you for letting us know.

Carrie Nunes

I am saddened by his passing. Though we never met, I’ve loved reading
his posts - rascally sense of humor, good advice, love of his work
and much more that he shared with us all. I’m glad to have known him

My heart goes out to Neil’s family.

Orchid brings us together because we love jewelry/metals/stones. We
meet, share and learn, get acquainted and grow with this unique
family. Along with the sharing and learning, it brings us joy.
Sometimes, we lose someone. And it brings sorrow because we have
also come to care.

Thank you John, for letting us know.


I’m heartbroken. Neil and I had become very close over the last few
years, but only over the 'net. We are kindred spirits, two brothers
with different mothers as Neil would say. He was a gear head that
loved fishing and making jewelry. And he was a Scotsman. I never had
the pleasure of downing some fine single malt with him, wetting a
line or running the quarter with my Mustang against his Dodge Dart. I
know I would have whooped his butt. But now, I’ll never get the
chance to show him my tail lights.

Yeah, that’s all you would have seen pal. Tail lights.

God bless you and be with your wonderful family, my dear, dear
friend. I will miss you Neil, more than words can say. I’m so sorry
we’ll never get to do all those things we talked about. Save me a
good spot in the pits. And at the boat ramp.


Neil MacArthur Pennell, 57 

Too damned young to die.

Terribly sorry to hear this. He was always so full of information
and sly humor.

Lisa, (in the middle of the floods here) Topanga, CA USA

I am so sorry to return home tonight to read this. So sad and yes,
too young. John, thank you so very much in realizing he was not
present as usual, and following through.

Your kind gesture reinforces my belief that we here on Orchid have
become an extended family.

May he RIP.


Now, it's a fact that it ~could~ be a different Neil. 

You are correct, this is our Neil. I too have had an on-going
correspondence with him; we talked at length about his experiences
in Florida, for example.

Also, we discussed the ideal size for a one-man shop, and Neil was
kind enough to send me photos of his tiny 150 sq. ft. shop. You all
would have loved it. A corner shop in a shake lap-sided building,
muntined windows on two sides. Dove grey and white, I believe. Walk
in the door (I happily assume there was a little bell), dark,
wood-plank floors. Standing room for two people; boxes helter-skelter
here and there between the two short counters in a L-shape. Carefully
chosen and constantly updated goods displayed; some custom, but most
there for the male last-minute shopper who knew they could count on
Neil to come through on the day of an just-remembered anniversary.
Neil seated on the other side, tapping away at the bench; a desk and
even a laser tucked in there. Had a bathroom, with steamer,
ultrasonic and more stuff stacked up wherever there was a spot -
totally self-sufficient.

A unique set-up for a unique individual.

Condolences to his family. I wonder if they even know the level of
respect Neil garnered for himself here on the Ganoskin forum? Such a
pragmatic, knowledgeable, kind and helpful man. His passing is a big
loss for me. Even though we were of an age, with his decades of
trade experience he took on the role of mentor.

I have absolutely no worries for you on your next adventure, Neil.

Oh John - thanks for finding this for us! I, too, had been wondering
why we hadn’t been hearing from Neil… so sad! He was much too
young to have died!

Beth Wicker
Three Cats and a Dog Design Studio

I’m very sorry to read this awfull news!! I didn’t knew him thatmuch
buth I liked him together with all his answers and contributions he
participated with on Ganoksin.

A very nice and knowledgable person indead, too sad that he had to
pass away!

My condolences to his family and all the persons who know him and
will miss him.

We’ll miss you Neil!

Oh wow, I’m so sorry to hear this. I read everything Neil wrote; I
feel like he was my mentor.

He was one of the first jewelers I was going to meet when I finally
get my RV and travel the country. (Sigh) I guess that’s a trip I
won’t be making. Dang, I wanted to see his shop, watch him at work,
just talk to him.

All the rest of you, stay healthy and live long; when I get that RV,
I’m coming to visit!

Bye for now, Neil.
Kelley Dragon

My condolences to Neil’s family and friends. I always read his posts
and looked forward to his comments and insights, he will be sorely

Jim Doherty

Very sad news. An irreplaceable asset to our community has been

John Donivan is a wealth of and gives it freely as Neil
did. I am sorry Neil left us so soon. I have received help from both
of these people over the years. Lets say Thank You more often.
Sometimes its too late.

Richard Langbert

I’m so sorry to hear of Neil’s passing. He was a great contributor to
Orchid. I always read every one of his posts for his insights and his
humor. My condolences to his family.

David L. Huffman

Thats so sad, Neil was a very lovely gentleman, I had the pleasure
of meeting him only a few months ago.

My thoughts are with his family.

There are those who share and those who use it only to
seek fortune or fame. Neil gave freely of his knowledge and will
certainly be missed by this group. He will be sorely missed.

Don in SOFL

I am so sorry to hear he has passed away, I will miss his postings
and his wise comments. Send his family my regards.

Jennifer Friedman
Ventura, CA

Thanks Don. You did well to let us know of Neil’s death. My
sympathies to his family and friends, including those of us who knew
him only through his contributions on Orchid.

Lucy was fortunate to have met Neil. There are many Orchidians who
post and share their knowledge and wisdom… and I have met only a
few of them. It’s an incentive to make more of those personal
connections. While I don’t have an RV, I do travel a bit and I
resolve to make a better effort to meet more of you, face-to-face.

Judy in Kansas