obit template2018-11-29T12:10:12+00:00

Calvin John

Perhaps it was the way in which Calvin Penner lived each day with an unending zest for life, or maybe it was his profound, inquisitive nature, but in all ways, Calvin lived to a beat all his own. Extremely intelligent and just as fun-loving, it seemed at times his deep, sparkling eyes could see straight into your soul while his smile was sure to light up a room. One of a kind, Calvin added much to the lives around him with his kind and generous ways. For these things and so much more, he will be deeply missed and remembered.

In 1994, nestled in the community of Glendale on the outskirts of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Carl II and Jonni (Bergholte) Penner were anticipating with much excitement the birth of their first child. It was a warm, summer Monday on July 25, 1994, and their eager anticipation had finally come to an end when they welcomed the birth of their little boy, Calvin John Penner into their waiting arms.

Born in Milwaukee at Columbia Hospital, the Penner’s brought their new bundle of boy home to Glendale where they made their home. From his earliest beginnings, Calvin had an inquisitive nature. He was a good boy, and enjoyed a childhood filled with boyhood adventure. As a youngster and well into his later years, Calvin loved the outdoors. He played little league baseball, and was known to his friends for, “The Catch”. He also led his flag football team to a championship, and enjoyed swimming, playing on the beach and being with his family. One of his favorite pastimes included anything Pokemon.

Calvin later welcomed a younger sister, Melanie Rae, and as a family they enjoyed numerous family vacations together. They traveled to many states throughout the U.S., as well as memorable times spent camping, snow skiing and viewing natural wonders. Calvin truly enjoyed their trip to Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks, riding horseback and river rafting in Montana, and especially liked spending time at the Bergholte condo in Door County, or at their family cottage in Oostburg. Whenever they went out for dinner, Calvin was certain to order the most expensive item on the menu!

Making friends came easily for Calvin. He was a friend to many, and developed close friendships over the years while attending Parkway Elementary School and Glen Hills Middle School. Early on he developed a love for reading, and his high intelligence gave Calvin pause to possess a curious mind as he took great interest in how things worked. Calvin asked questions of his teachers not usually asked by others. In the 8th grade he won a Geography Bee, which came as no surprise to those who knew Calvin well. He liked a good debate, and was intrigued with predicting weather and meteorology. As the family meteorologist, he often contradicted the forecasters, and was usually spot on. Calvin always loved a major weather event.

Along with his great sense of humor, Calvin came to develop a love for music. He enjoyed a variety of music genres, but loved and had an appreciation for classic rock. He enjoyed musicals, often watching them with his mother. Calvin himself had the best voice in the family, and could always be found singing or whistling a tune or two. Quite talented musically, he also played the acoustical and electric guitars. Highly intelligent, Calvin did well in his studies and went on to graduate from Nicolet High School. However, Calvin was a complex individual. He was never a mainstream type of person, which led him to resist school on many levels.

Following high school, Calvin went on to further his education at the University of Wisconsin, but shortly thereafter, decided to postpone college for a time. He took on a variety of jobs where he gained many life experiences. As a “homebody”, home was Calvin’s anchor. He continued living at home with his parents, often referring to home as his, “estate”!

Calvin was a boundless risk taker. In his eagerness to enjoy and live life to the fullest, he’d try anything. In fact, one of his sayings included the phrase, “Let’s just try it”. Along with these attributes, Calvin was just as loving. With a heart of gold, he was also empathetic and generous, and was always looking to help others. He was great with kids, and enjoyed time spent with younger family members. Above all, family was at the center of Calvin’s heart. They were very important to him, and he absolutely loved being in their midst.

With ways all his own, Calvin delighted all with his uncanny demeanor and free spirited nature. A handsome young man, his eyes gleamed like ripples of water on sunlight, and his smile could brighten the gloomiest of days. Although never again to enter a room with his famous, “Hey”, the memories he leaves behind will continue to warm the hearts of all who knew and loved him with sweet remembrance. Taken much too soon from love’s embrace, Calvin leaves a profound impact on the lives he touched in ways only he could.

Calvin John Penner unexpectedly passed away on Wednesday, February 4, 2015 at the age of 20. Beloved son of Carl II and Jonni Penner. Loving brother of Melanie Rae Penner. Loving grandson of Shirley Bergholte. Loving nephew of Christine Penner, Patricia (John) Newell, Deborah Essenburg, Marcia Penner, Robert (Sonja) Penner, Jo (Tim Braun) Bergholte, Jason Bergholte, Justin Bergholte and Jim Bills. Dear cousin of Christopher (Ashley Waldron) Pax, Julia (Joey) Van Dinter, Alexandra Essenburg, Katherine Essenburg, Bobby Penner, Chelsey Bills, Alex Bills, Sophia Van Dinter, William Van Dinter and Olivia Pax. He is further survived by other relatives and friends. Calvin was preceded in death by his grandparents, John Bergholte, Robert and Elizabeth Penner, Aunt Susan Penner, and Uncle Bill Essenburg. Family and friends will gather Saturday, February 7, 2015 at Suminski Life Story Funeral Homes – Suminski/Weiss, 1901 N. Farwell Ave (414) 276-5122 from 1:00 PM until time of his memorial service at 3:00 PM. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that memorials be made to the Milwaukee Rescue Mission. To share a favorite memory or photo of Calvin and to sign his online guest book, please visit

Past Comments

Gregory Koc

Calvin the non-stop tuber and boat driver are among my fondest memories of this fine young man. I will never forget the enjoyment he and Big Eric got out of being totally destroyed while tubing on our camping trips. I would at first feel guilty for whipping them as hard as I did and watching them cartwheel across the water. Yet they would get up laughing hysterically and ask for MORE!!! If I didn’t force them to stop so some of the other kids could have a turn, I truely believe they could have gone for hours! The grin on his face when i let him drive the boat was also priceless, especially when i told him it was ok to “hit it”, and go pretty much as fast as the boat would go! But he was also responsible enough to take the boat with a group of kids for a “leisurely” ride around the lake. I am very glad i was able to be part of the fun he had beating himself up on those tubes.

Camping with Cal will always bring fond memories and a smile.

I will miss you my friend, but never forget you. Love, Greg

Jo Bergholte


Your early morning rising as a preschooler. I was forewarned and taking care of you for a weekend. In the pre-dawn hours you grabbed a cheap tourist guitar from Tijuana and began strumming, then broke into song with Edelweiss. At the age of about 4, you serenaded me right out of bed at 5am. You loved musicals and couldn’t wait for the next day to begin.

Asking me about the Superiority of Viper vs. Doppler or was it Doppler over Viper? I had no thoughts on the subject but you were passionate and wanted an opinion.

Going to an Israeli-made, subtitled animated movie about the war in Gaza. I think you were just being polite when you said you enjoyed it.

Our conversations while driving to school. I recall one debate we entered into about whether there was a selective evolutionary advantage conferred on those who had faith. I said yes, you said no. After about 5 minutes of basically talking past each other, you stopped mid-sentence and with your characteristic grin said we sounded like two NPR commentators. We never even agreed to disagree after that.

So many posted memories frozen in time from so many who knew and love you. Piecing these together only begin to capture your essence as the multi-dimensional, funny, adventurous and complex boy you had been and man you were becoming.

Love forever, Aunt Jo

Isabel Detienne

The hardest thing for me to do is select one or two memories. I don’t remember you by a simple day or funny afternoon. I remember you by the 18 years I spent growing up with you. I remember your laugh and your smile.
I remember your passion for learning, and your crazy desire to always teach me something new.
I remember the few times you told me you finally admitted to loving me too. ( they were the best moments of my life. )
I remember the music you would sing and the beautiful songs you would hum.
I remember the crazy crush I had on you ( I mean, who wouldn’t)
I remember the last time I saw you. I walked down the cottage steps after giving you a hug. I quickly turned around, walked back up the stairs and was welcomed back into your arms for a second hug and an ” I love you”. I remember walking away with a sick feeling in my stomach knowing id miss you within a few hours. Little did I know that id never be lifted from that feeling.

I miss you so much Cal and will never forget that feeling of being with you.

I will never ever loose grasp of you. I will never live a day without thinking of you.

Can’t wait to see you again some day.

I wish you were here,
I love you <3

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