Remembering Carl Penn: Family Man and Businessman

Carl and Emma Penn (Family photo)
Carl and Emma Penn (Family photo)

A St. John patriarch who turned a life of hard work and devotion to family into an enduring commercial success was laid to rest Saturday. Carl Penn was 82 years old when he died on Feb. 14.

Penn was born May 21, 1937, in the British Virgin Islands. He attended school as a youth while herding animals, fishing, and performing household chores with his 12 brothers and sisters.

By the early 1950s Penn had moved to St. John, finding work and displaying a variety of job-related skills. Penn worked as a handyman, propane gas delivery man, truck driver, charter boat sailor, campground attendant, and as a stone mason.

He was employed by the Morrisette family and later the St. John Corporation. In 1966 Penn sought his own fortune in the transportation industry.

“Carl went to work for himself around 1966 with an old Willy’s pickup truck. That was the beginning of Penn’s Trucking Service,” said his son, Jose Penn.

Carl was the president of all three corporations and worked as an equipment operator, truck driver, manager, and as a contractor on family construction projects. Jose and Andrew, along with wife and mother Emma Penn, were the co-owners with Carl of their family businesses, Penns’ Trucking Services, Inc., Penns’ Jeep Rental, Inc., and Penns’ Apartment Rental, Inc.

Emma and Carl retired from the business several years ago. Jose and Andrew still run the business. Emma died in March 2018.

As a family man, Carl Penn fathered six sons, Jose, Ivan (who died in 2014), Lionel (died in 1992), Bohankus, and Cooper.

Funeral services were held March 9 at St. Ursula’s Episcopal Church.