Many BHCA members and friends remember newsletter articles by Kevin Doherty, historic landscape designer. Also known as “Bungalow Kev,” he spoke at several events on bungalow architecture. He often shared his connection to Belmont Heights through the story of how he met his beloved wife Penelope at Fremont Elementary. Below is a note to the BHCA from Kevin, reflecting on her recent passing.
On May 24th, 2020, my dear wife of 36 years, Penelope Jane Doherty, passed away after a lengthy illness relating to heart failure. I am devastated. The world without my beloved feels lonely, empty, and very sad. She wanted me to pick up and carry on so I will try my best, but at age 67, it is very difficult.
She was an enchantress, a magical and highly creative person, kind and empathetic. For 33 years she and I worked with children as art teachers. In fact, we met at Fremont Elementary where I was an aide and she came to my class as an art teacher. We fell in love and began traveling the world, backpacks on backs looking for great art, culture, and humanity. We collaborated on a variety of projects and played like children. We were very close, told one another everything, and loved one another unconditionally.
She was born April 28th, 1936, in the Berkeley hills, a love child (though she didn’t know that until age 30). Her mother, Jen Peter Scott, told her about her parentage: that her life-long lover, Carmel artist John James O Ferrell Cunningham, was her biological dad. Penelope was delighted, and she and her father developed a close and fulfilling relationship until he died at age 100.
As a child, she attended Anna Head School in Berkeley, moved to Westlake School in Brentwood, then graduated from UCLA. She married an engineer, had three wonderful children while living in Palos Verdes teaching art to children in a spacious mid-century style home built of cedar that she designed. After we met in 1983, we bought and restored a craftsman bungalow nearby, hosted house concerts, and turned the living room into our art studio. Her son, Michael, became a Broadway actor, and son, Chris, gave her five grandchildren. She attracted a diverse group of people from all over the world because she was so accepting and understanding. She felt that everyone was special, unique, and worthwhile.
Mostly I remember her big smile, those lovely hazel eyes, her kind, gentle manner, her song voice, her deeply introspective creative nature, and her love of being with me no matter where we were or what we were doing. I will miss her dearly