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Terry Lee and Denise Penz
May 18, 2017 : Denise M. Penz receives Austin C. Furbee Award

ST. CLAIRSVILLE, Ohio (May 17, 2017) - The Eastern Ohio Alumni Chapter of Ohio University has named Denise M. Penz as the 2017 Austin C. Furbee Award honoree, in recognition of her dedication and contribution to Ohio University and the community.  An award dinner was held in her honor on Wednesday, May 17, at 7pm at Belmont Hills Country Club in St. Clairsville. 


Ohio University Eastern Campus Dean Paul Abraham introduced Penz at the event.  “Denise clearly exemplifies the intent of the Austin C. Furbee Award,” said Abraham.  “She has been a champion on our community foundation board and has played a significant role in the development of our 60th Anniversary Campaign and upcoming Gala.”


Abraham continued, “Through her leadership, Home Savings provided a significant early scholarship donation for our 60th Anniversary Fund that will benefit local students for many years to come.  Clearly, she is most deserving of an honor that seeks to recognize an individual for steadfast and impactful service to our campus and the community.”


Ohio University Eastern Campus Dean Paul Abraham; Lori Jones, YWCA; Liz Hofreuter-Landini, Wheeling Country Day; Denise Penz, Furbee Recipient; Alicia Freeman, A Special Wish; and E. J. Schodzinski, OUEPenz was also recognized by Mr. Michael McTeague, emeritus professor at OUE; Terry Lee, co-chair of the Eastern Ohio Alumni Chapter; E. J. Schodzinski, director external affairs at OUE; Alicia Freeman, A Special Wish; Liz Hofreuter-Landini, Wheeling Country Day; and Lori Jones, YWCA.


Schodzinski reaffirmed the impact that Penz has had on Ohio University’s Eastern Campus through her involvement with the community foundation board.  “Denise has been a key contributor to the success of our recent development initiatives from the very beginning,” he said.  “Her leadership qualities are many, but the one that I find the most admirable is her noticeable concern for helping others in our community.  Her dedication and contribution to Ohio University and the community are synonymous with the Furbee Award.”


Penz’s commitment and passion for the community was a common theme throughout the evening.  Freeman, Hofreuter-Landini and Jones each spoke of her philosophy and the positive impact she has made with A Special Wish, Wheeling Country Day School, YWCA and Ohio University. 


“Denise is a woman on a mission and shares her talents to ensure the success of every organization or group she aligns with, said Jones.  “She is calculated in her risks, deliberate about her actions, generous in spirit and dedicated and loyal to her affiliations.


Freeman added, “Denise is a kind, compassionate, giving person who always puts others before herself.  Anyone who has the opportunity to know her should feel extremely blessed.   She exemplifies everything this award stands for!”


Hofreuter-Landini concluded, “As President of the Board of Trustees at Wheeling Country Day School, Denise made a substantial impact in our community.  Under her leadership, the private elementary school grew by over 100% from 80 students to more than 180.  Just as importantly, her personal philanthropy inspired others to create named student scholarships.”


Denise began her banking career in 1996 after serving with distinction in the United States Navy.  She started at Belmont National Bank, gaining experience in trust administration and trust audit before she was provided the opportunity to lead the trust and investment division for BNB. 


Through two acquisitions, Denise continued to lead the regional wealth division for Sky Bank and Huntington Bank until 2008.  She then became a principal with a private equity group, and subsequently raised $17.5 million to acquire a controlling interest in Ohio Legacy Corporation and Ohio Legacy Bank, which became Premier Bank & Trust. 


In February 2010, Denise was named Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of Premier Bank & Trust.  In this position, she led all areas of wealth management including trust, private banking, retirement plan services, and brokerage and investment services. She also oversaw retail banking, mortgage lending, marketing, human resources, and the sales support areas of the bank.  Recently, Premier merged with Home Savings Bank and Denise was named the Director of Wealth Management. 


Denise is very active in the banking industry and in the local community.  She is a member of the board of MainStreet Advisors, and Ohio Bankers League.  She also serves as a member of the board of trustees of the YWCA, member of The Women’s Giving Circle, member of Women’s Impact, board member of the Development Advisory Board for Ohio University Eastern, and as President of the Ohio Valley Chapter of A Special Wish Foundation. She is past president of the Wheeling Country Day School Board of Trustees having served in that office for eight years. 


Denise and her husband Karl reside in Wheeling, WV and enjoy volunteering and outdoor activities.  Their daughter Alexis attended Wheeling Country Day School and graduated from the Linsly School.  She attended Winthrop University and achieved her BA in Early intervention.  She resides in Rock Hill, SC. and works as the Special Development Coordinator and Head Lead pre-school teacher at Kids Are Kids Academy. 


Penz was most appreciative of the recognition.  “I was surprised and honored to be chosen for the Austin C. Furbee Award from Ohio University,” she said.  “I became involved with the Eastern Campus because I firmly believe in their mission and I believe in the people involved.”  She continued, “I also believe in the opportunities they provide their students and have been impressed with my every interaction with the students, staff, and leadership.”


Denise finished by talking of her support for the local causes, of which she is involved, and her pleasure in sharing this evening with the leaders of those.  “We are a blessed community to have such wonderful organizations supporting our residents and such awesome leadership of each.” 


Austin C. Furbee, for whom the award is named, played a key role in the formation of the Ohio University Eastern Campus.  While serving as a Belmont County Commissioner, Furbee realized that there were limited opportunities for higher education in the Ohio Valley.  As a result, he became instrumental in the commission’s acquisition of the former Belmont County Experimental Station farmland, which was to become a regional campus of Ohio University. 


Furbee’s involvement with Ohio University grew throughout the years.  He was a long-time member of the Ohio University Eastern Regional Coordinating Council, and also presided as chairman of the council when Shannon Hall, the first building on the St. Clairsville campus, was dedicated in 1967.  As a result of Furbee’s efforts, the Eastern Campus has continued to grow, and serve the needs of the community.  Ohio University’s Eastern Campus stands as a tribute to his vision, determination and hard work.    


The Austin C. Furbee award was first given in 1981 after Furbee’s wife, Gladys, established an endowed fund in memory of her husband.  The award is given annually to recognize an individual who has shown dedication, commitment and service to Ohio University and to the community.


Previous Austin C. Furbee Award Recipients

  • Mary J. Poston
  • Dr. Robert J. Parrish
  • Carole A. Mitchell
  • Thomas W. Dunlap
  • Robert Crum
  • Roger W. Stewart
  • James Kacsmar
  • Charles Wilson
  • Karen Nichols
  • Robert W. Ney
  • Dr. E.R. Bovenizer
  • Marshall Piccin
  • William L. Toothman
  • Elizabeth Sproull
  • Harry W. White
  • Michael Jamison
  • George A. Carroll, Jr.
  • Dr. James W. Newton, Jr.
  • Daniel L. Frizzi, Jr.
  • Michael McTeague
  • MaryLou Goodman
  • John Bisbocci
  • Terry A. Lee
  • Dama Burkhart
  • Dennis Fox
  • Dr. David Brooks
  • Keith A. Sommer
  • Dr. Richard W. Greenlee
  • Dr. John S. Mattox