Cox, preschool co-founder, Los Angeles native

| January 1, 2020 | 0 Comments

PLYMOUTH SCHOOL co-founder with her grandchildren.

Penny Cox (born Agnes Ducharme Robillard), co-founder of The Plymouth School, died Dec. 1. She was 87.
Penny was born in Los Angeles on Oct. 5, 1932, and she grew up in South Los Angeles on 99th Street. When her family moved to the San Fernando Valley in the 1940s, Penny stayed behind in the “city” with her older sister, LaDonna.

“Agnes wanted no part of it,” says her younger brother, Danie. “Not the Valley, not the lack of friends; she told me it might as well be the MOON!”

When Danie next saw his sister, she had transformed into a “bright, shiny new ‘Penny,’ and was ‘Penny’ forevermore.”

Eventually Penny did wind up in the Valley with the rest of her family, where she attended San Fernando High School. She was an athletic teenager who loved bowling, tennis and acting.

After graduating high school, Penny managed a Mexican import shop at the Farmers Market for nearly 10 years. At one point, she served as an assistant buyer at the old Bullocks Wilshire, but she was soon recruited by her neighbor, Darlene Smolen, to help at a summer program for Head Start. That brief stint encouraged Penny to get credentialed in early childhood education, which led to a teaching job in Beverly Hills. Dissatisfied with the preschool where they were teaching, Penny and Darlene, plus teachers Gayle Smith, Ruth Traub and Sylvia Johnson, decided to open their own preschool. In 1972, the five women opened The Ply-
mouth School in a space in the Wilshire Methodist Church on Plymouth Blvd.

In 1992, the non-denominational preschool moved to its current location at Wilshire Presbyterian Church on Oxford Avenue at Third Street.

Penny loved watching UCLA football, and her devotion to the Los Angeles Dodgers is legendary. She and her family (husband Jim and sons David and Bobby) spent many days at Dodger Stadium watching her beloved team, as well as walking along the Santa Monica Pier and spending time at the beach. Her favorite vacation destination was the Napili Kai Beach Resort on the island of Maui.

Penny is survived by her older and younger brothers, Phillip George Robillard and Danie Lee Robillard; her two children, David and Bobby; six grandchildren, Kristina, Kyle, Colin, Jackson, Carson and Molly; and her longtime partner, Bob Block. She was predeceased by her husband Jim, brother Lowell Kenneth Robillard and sister LaDonna Marie Robillard Svetina.

Penny will be greatly missed by her family, friends, and the hundreds, if not thousands, of children and families whose lives she influenced, shaped, and inspired through her love and commitment to the youngest members of the Hancock Park, Windsor Square, Mid-Wilshire, Larchmont and Brookside communities and beyond.


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Category: People

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