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The ‘Dean of Real Estate’ Passes On

It was with heartfelt sadness that I learned today of the death of my friend, mentor, and fellow real estate agent, Don Pennington.

Don was respectfully referred to as the ‘Dean of Real Estate‘ although I always teased him and called him the ‘Duke’ or the ‘Dean Martin’ of Real Estate.

Don was a true rock-star legend in the local Kitsap County WA real estate market. While many people get their license and attempt to practice real estate, Don was a highly respected and knowledgeable professional and staunch advocate for his clients.

When I made my return to real estate, it was Don Pennington who took me under his wing, and showed me the ropes of Buying and Selling Homes in Kitsap County. He was my faithful navigator as we embarked on home tour every week, making sure that we never took the same route twice, so I could learn every alley, backstreet, and shortcut. And all along the way, he would point out all the homes he had listed or sold (which were quite a few, many of them two or three times!). I learned more about real estate in a 5 minute conversation with Don than I ever did sitting through hours of classroom sessions. He was never too busy to offer up sage, practical advice to anyone who asked for help.

As a fellow Bubblehead (Submarine sailor) we shared many similar memories, attitudes, and convictions – the kind of things that usually went unsaid, but you both knew and understood. The last time I saw Don was just a week or so ago, and we talked about getting together for lunch to get caught up.

To this day, whenever I am showing homes to clients, and I open the door, I still hear Don say “Realtor in the House!”

Don, you were a true gentleman and a valued mentor. ‘Green Board’ my friend!

6 thoughts on “The ‘Dean of Real Estate’ Passes On

  1. It made me sad to read this and learn of Don’s passing. He was a true gentleman in every sense of the word. In all the years I published the local real estate magazines for this county (and several others), Don was a loyal customer from the very beginning.

    I first met him during his heyday — as the top salesperson at the top real estate firm in the region, Spot Realty. He later went on to form his own company, Don Pennington & Associates, and later merged his firm with the Silverdale office of Windermere Real Estate.

    Don was always a fashionable, dresser, who keenly understood the concept of understated elegance. In that same spirit, he always drove a new Cadillac, which he kept clean as a whistle at all times, until sometime in the mid-1980s, when he got behind the wheel of a Lincoln Town Car. He never went back.

    As are all highly successful sales professionals, Don was unfailingly polite at all times. He was keenly perceptive, and understood the nuances of how to read body language and voice patterns, which were all part of what made him the consummate sales professional he was.

    About 20 years ago, I wrote a story on the local real estate market for the Business Journal, and interviewed a number of local Realtors about the state of the market. In that story, I tagged Don as the “Dean of Kitsap County Real Estate.” Being the gentleman and professional he was, he called and asked me if I would mind if he used that in his personal marketing efforts.

    Over the years, after I sold the real estate magazines, Don would call me from time to time, or stop by our offices to chat, and usually comment about an editorial I had written for the Business Journal, or when I would review a car that piqued his interest. Our conversations were always free and easy, and considered each other friends.

    Don’s health began failing in recent years, and I was a guest at his retirement party which was held at the Yacht Club Broiler. It was definitely an event, and seeing some of the Realtors that I had known and done business for so many years was both a treat and a bittersweet experience. I was stunned at how old and tired some of them seemed to have gotten. Many had retired from the business, but some were still plugging away at it — while others had returned to previous careers when real estate slowed down, or found new lines of work. But everyone was there to honor Don, and stories — funny, sad, and bittersweet and touching, were shared openly. The number of people who talked about how Don had either mentored them or been an example to emulate, was in my view the biggest tribute to the man who had earned the title, “The Dean of Real Estate.”

    I’ll miss you my friend…


  2. Don Pennington was a rarity…interesting, a nice man, a true gentleman.

    I’m sorry we lost him but the world is a better place for him having been in it.

    Deepest condolences to his family and friends…
    Sharon O’Hara

  3. A sad day for all of us fortunate to call Don our friend. He will remain in our hearts and minds – I was so blessed to be the recipient of many \Don Talks\ full of advice, encouragement and friendship! To his family, please know that we share in your sorrow at this sad time – may your memories of Don always leave a smile on your face, and love in your heart.

  4. All of the above is accurate from my experience and friendship with fellow submariner and the Dean of Real Estate over the past 37 years.

    Don Bassler

  5. My last conversation with Don was at Post 68 last Month.He was as allways smiley and friendly.Forty years I ahave known this man and he was all the above.He was also a loveing Father and a devoted husband.
    The best is at rest bless him.

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