Penelope Alice Thresher, museum volunteer, dies

Penelope Alice DeNure Thresher, a homemaker and Steppingstone Museum volunteer, died of cancer Friday at her Churchville home. She was 81.

Born Penelope Alice DeNure in Hackensack, N.J., she earned a bachelor's degree from Adelphi University in Garden City, N.Y. She trained as an elementary teacher at the Mills School in New York City.

She taught school in Dolgeville, N.Y., where she met her future husband, Richard G. Thresher Sr., an Army civilian engineer and former associate technical director of the chemical systems laboratory at Aberdeen Proving Ground.

They were married in 1952 and moved to Maryland. They built a Churchville home, Rock Bottom, where the couple raised their family and maintained a vegetable garden. Mrs. Thresher made and canned her own grape juice.

Mrs. Thresher taught Sunday school and vacation Bible school at local churches, most recently at New Covenant Presbyterian Church in Abingdon.

In 1976, she became a volunteer at the Steppingstone Museum in Havre de Grace, where she worked for 25 years. Mrs. Thresher helped to start the farm history programs and assisted with kitchen crafts and cooking demonstrations.

"Schoolchildren and adult visitors learned the skills of late 19th-century wood-stove cookery from her enthusiastic demonstrations," said her daughter, Margaret T. Burns of Phoenix. "She demonstrated making potato pancakes."

Mrs. Thresher was a naturalist and had a broad knowledge of botany and birds. She enjoyed identifying trees and keeping her own field guides to identify birds. She took family members to the Conowingo Dam and used a pair of binoculars to observe bald eagles.

Active in church work, Mrs. Thresher supported missionaries across the world. She entertained them, as well as visiting Aberdeen Proving Ground military officers, at her home.

Mrs. Thresher was formerly active in the Daughters of the American Revolution and the Women's Christian Temperance Union.

Services will be held at 3 p.m. Friday at the McComas Funeral Home, 1317 Cokesbury Road in Abingdon.

In addition to her daughter, survivors include two sons, Richard G. Thresher Jr. of Cecilia, Ky., and Robert J. Thresher of Aberdeen; two other daughters, Penelope T. Beddow of Fort Wayne, Ind., and Martha T. Martin of Roanoke, Ind.; six brothers, Peter DeNure and Philip DeNure, both of Pumpkin Lakes, N.J., Woody DeNure of Ramsay, N.J., Leonard DeNure of Catskill, N.Y., Donny DeNure of Venice, Fla., and Bobby DeNure of Eugene, Ore.; two sisters, Phyllis Johnson and Barbara Skorupa, both of North East; 15 grandchildren; and nine great-grandchildren. Her husband of 46 years died in 1999.

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