Dr. Timothy “Tim” Pennell, a longtime administrator and surgeon at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center, died last week at the age of 85.

Dr. Timothy Pennell cared about people and was a skilled surgeon who helped students at the Bowman Gray School of Medicine become skilled surgeons, his friends and family said.

“He had the most amazing patience,” said Dr. J. Wayne Meredith, the chief of surgery and chairman of the Department of Surgery at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center. “He spent time with his students, and he heard everything they said and he put them at ease.

“It was a thing of beauty,” Meredith said, adding that Pennell was one of his mentors.

Pennell, 85, died April 13 at Salemtowne Retirement Community after a long illness, his son, Cliff Pennell, said.

“He was a wonderful dad,” Cliff Pennell said. “He was my best friend. He based his life on his family, faith and service.”

His oldest daughter, Melanie Pennell Broyhill, said her father was devoted to his children and grandchildren.

“As busy as he was, he always had time for you,” Broyhill said. “He was a real people person.”

Jennifer Pennell Gortney, Pennell’s youngest daughter, said that her father made connections with people.

“My dad was a great encourager,” Gortney said. “He always wanted his children to do well, and he encouraged them in whatever they were doing.”

A native of Asheville, the elder Pennell graduated from Wake Forest in 1955 and from Bowman Gray School of Medicine, now known as Wake Forest University School of Medicine, in 1960, according to his obituary.

During his long career, Pennell served as a professor and instructor of surgery at the medical school as well as the chief of professional services and director and consultant of international health affairs at N.C. Baptist Hospital, his obituary said.

From 1982 to 2000, Pennell served as a director of the medical school’s director of Office of International Health Affairs. Pennell received the WFU’s highest honor, the Medallion of Merit, in 2005.

“I’m going to remember that everywhere Tim went, he spread peace, love and harmony,” said Meredith, who did his residency under Pennell from 1978 to 1986. “He helped people to work together and care about people everywhere.”

Dr. Richard Dean, a retired executive at Wake Forest University Health Sciences, called Pennell a gifted general surgeon.

“I have deep respect for him like everyone else who knew him,” Dean said, “because of his devotion to help other people.”

Pennell served for several years as the team physician for Reynolds High School, Dean said. Pennell also helped create sports medicine programs for the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools, according to his obituary.

“I’ve never met anyone in my life in any role that was as committed to serving other people than Tim,” Dean said.

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jhinton@wsjournal.com 336-727-7299 @jhintonWSJ

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