March 8 declared Sonny Penhale Day

By NATHAN HOWELL | Staff Writer

HELENA – To mark the legacy of former mayor, Charles “Sonny” Penhale, March 8 was officially declared Sonny Penhale Day at a Helena City Council meeting.

This day was chosen as it marked what would have been Penhale’s 90th birthday, having been born March 8, 1931. Helena Mayor Brian Puckett expressed that Penhale’s journey as a civil servant was one of his greatest inspirations for his job as the current mayor.

“He was a great leader, having entered politics in 1960 when he first won a seat on the Helena City Council. He became mayor, following in the footsteps of his grandfather Charles Iverson Hinds, in 1968,” Puckett said. “The city wanted to do anything we could to be able to honor the man who spent 44 years leading the city into what we now know as modern-day Helena, which increased from 1,000 to almost 22,000 people.”

Penhale’s impact on the city was notable and very profound as he led the city for more than four decades between 1968 and 2012.

“He showed unwavering dedication by working to provide crucial services to the residents,” Puckett said. “His accomplishments were many, among the proudest being the many beloved parks and the building of three new schools.”

The work that Penhale put forth toward education had a notable impact on many people throughout the community, especially Helena City Councilmember Leigh Hulsey who had an opportunity to work with him in his last term.

“One of the things that was most evident about him was his love for our students and them having access to education within the city, and not having to leave Helena for an education,” Hulsey explained. “He fought tooth and nail for that to happen, and I really do think that speaks to us today because of the work that he did, and helping the city by partnering with the county. I appreciate his service. He really truly did love this city.”

The proclamation issued by Puckett also noted Penhale’s dedication to faith as a longtime member of the Helena United Methodist Church where he volunteered throughout his entire life seeking to make the city a better place.