You’re never too old!

You’re never too old!Former Owego resident Frank Penny celebrated his recent 90th birthday by taking a tandem skydive over Florida's west coast. Penny is a previous owner and operator of WEBO radio. Provided photo.

Former Owego resident Frank Penny celebrated his recent birthday amongst fluffy clouds and bright sunshine in clear blue open skies. Breathtaking views were the icing on the cake as he slowly descended back to solid ground.

Penny, who turned 90 on May 26, was treated to an extra-special occasion. Family and friends traveled far distances to gather and celebrate with him at his Florida home, but one reservation made was unfortunately canceled due to weather concerns.  

Frank’s daughter Verna, remarked, “When 90 comes up, it needs to be a really special day.”

That rescheduled birthday gift for Frank instead took place on July 6, and it was the chance to go skydiving!

Skydive City, located in Zephyrhills, Fla., is an internationally famous skydiving center and attracts visitors from all over the world, and happens to be about fifteen miles from where Frank lives.

You’re never too old!

Former Owego resident Frank Penny celebrated his recent 90th birthday amongst fluffy clouds in the clear blue open skies, and took a skydive over Florida’s wes

“It was a marvelous experience,” Frank said, and explained that a guide went with him on the tandem skydive, and added, “I figured he knew what he was doing; he had jumped about eight thousand times.”

Frank remarked, “Everyone should do it once or twice, it’s so quiet and peaceful up there,” and reminisced, “Actually, this was my fourth or fifth time. One skydive I did was on the east coast near Cape Canaveral, and it was a great view.”

Frank was in his eighties when he first went skydiving. The inspiration, he noted, was after reading a story in a local newspaper about an 85-year-old woman who had accomplished skydiving. 

He set a goal and told himself, “I can do that, too.”

Frank Penny has a connection to Owego. Penny, along with Warren Haas, both radio pioneers, owned and operated WEBO during the 1960’s, and through the 1980’s. Back in those early days, Penny explained that he and Haas were looking for a new venture together in a small market radio station, and relocated to Owego because they liked the area, plus the price was right.

You’re never too old!

Friends and family gathered in Florida for Frank Penny’s 90th birthday. All were given a tee shirt that included a quote by Mark Twain, which reads, in part, “Explore, Dream, Discover.” At 90, Frank Penny has proven he is a true explorer in his own right. Provided photo.

Penny and his family stayed in Owego for over 30 years. His wife, Grace, was known for her WEBO show “Coffee Club”, and was instrumental in spearheading the arts and crafts exhibit at the Tioga County Fair. The couple moved to Florida in 1999, and Grace passed away in 2018 at age 82.

Frank and Grace often traveled to exotic locations together, like South America, the South Pacific and Europe, and even near the Arctic Circle.

Today, Frank’s momentum carries on. 

Just this year Frank went on a cruise around the world, a 111-day adventure to 28 different countries, and his daughter kept everyone up to date throughout his excursion. Port stops included Australia and New Zealand, the Panama and Suez Canals, the Mediterranean, French Polynesia, Singapore, and more.

Verna, who was born on her father’s birthday, enjoys celebrating their shared birth date. But one line item not on Verna’s bucket list, well not yet anyways, is to skydive like her father.  

You’re never too old!

Former Owego resident Frank Penny celebrated his recent 90th birthday by taking a tandem skydive over Florida’s west coast. Penny is a previous owner and operator of WEBO radio. Provided photo.

Frank noted that humans are naturally afraid of heights. Yet, if his track record of extracurricular activities is any indication, then he’s pretty much mastered the fear of heights. 

Frank has been a passenger in all types of flying machines, like a glider aircraft, a helicopter and a seaplane, and has done hang-gliding. He missed three occasions for hot-air balloon flights due to weather concerns, although he might try again. 

On many of those excursions, Frank was accompanied by his wife of 57 years, Grace, and who, as much as Frank, was extraordinarily adventurous.

Interestingly, on one trip, the Penny’s hopped a freighter ship home after a vacation overseas and, along with just a handful of other passengers, traveled, albeit a bit slower, from England to Philadelphia. Frank shared that not many people realize you can hop a freighter, and the experience remains a favorite memory. 

Frank is an avid walker, too, and he bikes almost daily. Overall, Verna said, Frank takes good care of himself.

There doesn’t seem to be a “slow down button” on Frank Penny’s watch. 

Frank mused, “I would love to skydive over a large city, but I’m not sure if that is possible.”

Back in the Southern Tier, Frank stays connected with long-time friends, like Mary Jury Roper. Roper, a Media Buyer at Riger Marketing Communications, started as a broadcaster at WEBO in the early 1980’s.

Mary shared, “Frank hired me as an on-air personality at WEBO radio when I first moved to the Greater Binghamton area, and I worked for him for about six years.”

Mary’s take on Frank’s skydiving adventure, “This is 90! He is my hero!” 

Verna concurred, “He is our hero and inspiration. He is purposeful, and enjoys life.”

Frank will soon add another pin to his map. The recent around-the-world cruise stopped at all of the continents with the exception of one, so Frank made it a priority to visit Antarctica in January. He will cruise out of Santiago, sail down the west coast of South America, and then after a stop in Antarctica the ship proceeds up the east coast of South America to Buenos Aires.   

At Frank’s birthday celebration in Florida, friends and family received a tee shirt imprinted with a Mark Twain quote that reads, in part, “Explore, Dream, Discover.”

Frank, a true explorer in his own right, conveyed a message to all, “Go out and see this great, big and wide, wonderful world!”

To view Frank’s skydive, visit

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