David Zheng, Senior Photographer

Penny Taylor-Greenland, a longtime dining hall employee and beloved member of the Trumbull community, passed away at Yale New Haven Hospital on Nov. 5. She was 58.

Greenland had been at Yale for more than 17 years as a general services assistant, greeting students as they entered and fulfilling various roles in the kitchen, anchoring her as a beloved presence in the Trumbull dining hall.

“She was like a big sister or mom,” said Shayrhonda Wellons, a Trumbull dining staff member.  “When I first started [at Trumbull] 10 years ago, I was like a young girl and she used to show me the ropes and welcomed me with open arms.”

Trumbull dining hall managers Ellen Habelow and Danielle Lucci remember her “positive outlook” and “contagious laugh” even when she faced numerous personal hardships.

“Her heart was so big and so lovable,” said Torquisha McCall, another of Greenland’s co-workers at Trumbull. “On my bad days at work Penny was right there for me, and she held me up.”

Fay Harris, who also worked with Greenland in the Trumbull dining hall, described her as a “counselor” who always lent friends and strangers alike a listening ear.

That maternal instinct — Wellons clarified that Greenland would be the “fun parent”— reached everyone indiscriminately: If students came to the dining hall minutes after it closed, she would usher them in so that they could still grab a meal.

But all work in the kitchen had to come to a halt when her favorite rapper, DMX, came on the radio so that she could dance, recalled Wellons.

“Sadness is high among our dining hall,” wrote Head of College Margaret Clark in an email to the Trumbull student body, and encouraged students to express their appreciation to dining staff.

Greenland was born on Nov. 2, 1962, in New Haven. She was a lifelong resident of the Elm City. Outside of work, her colleagues recall that she dedicated her time to looking after her children and grandchildren, whom she doted upon.

Greenland is survived by her five siblings, three children and two grandchildren. Her mother, Grace Taylor-Crews, had passed away just days prior on Oct. 30.

A memorial service and viewing will be held on Saturday at Colonial Funeral Home in Hamden.

Emily Tian | emily.tian@yale.edu