Born: November 13, 1867, Madura, India.
Died: February 4, 1958, Englewood, New Jersey.
Buried: Brookside Cemetery, Englewood, New Jersey.
Penfield was the son of Thornton Bigelow Penfield and Charlotte Devins, missionaries to India, and husband of Martha Lee Martin (married 1894).
After his father’s death in 1871, his mother moved the family to her parents’ home in Montclair, New Jersey.
He attended St. Johnsbury Academy, Vermont, then returned to New York and lived with his mother and stepfather while attending Columbia University in New York City. He then studied at Union Seminary, and worked for the New York Tribune.
After graduation from seminary, Penfield went to work for the Presbyterian Board of Home Missions, and later, the International Committee of the Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA).
As I sat in my window one afternoon
And watched the snow flakes fall,
And communed with myself, while all alone,
I heard a soft voice call;
And it said to me in the silence deep,
I love thee more than all.
I turned, but nothing could I see
From whence the voice could come,
So I said to myself,
It is the wind
That through the trees doth roam.
But the voice kept ringing in my ears,
And it said,
My child, come home.
Then all at once I understood—
’Twas the voice of my God above
Who was speaking to me in this quiet way
These tender words of love;
And I gladly cried,
My father, I come—
No longer will I rove.
And now, content, I rest in Him,
Secure from all alarm,
And when I feel my strength will fail,
I lean on His strong arm;
For I know that He will keep me safe
From every kind of harm.
Thornton Bancroft Penfield
The Four Leaved Clover, 1900