Ralph Penley Obituary

Ralph Edwin Penley
Ralph Edwin Penley

September 21, 1945 - January 20, 2023
Born in Des Moines, Iowa
Resided in Des Moines, Iowa
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Ralph Edwin Penley, 77, of Des Moines, Iowa, passed away on Friday, January 20, 2023, at his home in Des Moines.

Ralph was born September 21, 1945, in Des Moines. He is preceded in death by his parents, Ralph Edward and Clarice Ruth (Howard) Penley, and his brother David Penley. He received his education and graduated from East High School in the Class of 1964. He also attended ISU.

Ralph worked for the City of Des Moines in Housing and Community Development for over thirty years until his retirement. On June 29, 2011, he married Yanyu Penley and they made their home in Des Moines.
Ralph is survived by his wife, Yanyu, and their daughter, Zhaoying Penley, of Des Moines; Nancy Penley, and their daughter, Rainbow Penley, both of Des Moines.

A visitation will be held Friday January 27th, from 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. at the Dunn’s Funeral Home. A private family burial will follow at Glendale Cemetery.

Dad was a cool cat. He was self-assured and quietly funny.

He, his partner Gregg, and my mom opened The Broken Arrow in Polk City in 1974. They eventually sold it, and years later Dad cut off his hippie ponytail for a job opportunity with the City of Des Moines. He would go on to work for the city for the next 30 years. He loved his job.

He was rarely seen without one of his legendary multi-pocketed vests. One of my friends said he always looked like he was about to go on safari.

When I was growing up, he always left the house to go to work before I got up. We had a small chalkboard he would set up on the kitchen table, and he’d leave cute messages for me every morning. For my birthday every year, he put on the shirt he wore home from the hospital the day I was born.

I don’t think he missed even one of my gigs. If I didn’t start on time (which was frequently) he would start clapping and yelling some variation of ‘Where’s the music?!’ We went to lunch at least once a month. He’d often visit me at my bartending job on the weekends, and I’d load up the jukebox with classic rock.

In my grandma’s final years, he bought a house for them and cared for her tirelessly and faithfully. He suffered a brain aneurysm in 2014 but fought hard and eventually returned to work and caring for my grandma until she passed. The aneurysm did take its toll though, and after she passed, he began to decline. He struggled with dementia for the last few years, but he always maintained his sense of humor and wit.

There was never a moment in my life when I didn’t how much he loved me, and how proud he was of me.

I was so lucky to have him.





Iles Dunn's Chapel
2121 Grand Ave.
Des Moines, IA US 50312
Friday, January 27, 2023
10:00 AM - 12:00 PM