Penick, Daniel Allen (1869–1964)

By: Harry J. Leon

Type: Biography

Published: 1976

Updated: June 1, 1995

Daniel Allen Penick, tennis coach and classical scholar, was born on a farm in Cabarrus County, North Carolina, on September 7, 1869, the son of Dixon Brown and Elizabeth Allen (Cochrane) Penick. The family moved to Austin in 1882, and in 1887 Penick entered the University of Texas, where he edited Texas University, a student magazine. He was active in founding the university YMCA and served as its first secretary-treasurer. He lettered in baseball for three successive years and was a member of the track team. Penick received his B.A. in 1891 and his M.A. in 1892. After teaching English and Latin at the Paris, Texas, high school (1892–93) and at Daniel Baker College in Brownwood (1893–94), he entered Johns Hopkins University in 1894 for graduate study in Greek, Latin, and Sanskrit; he received a Ph.D. from that institution in 1898, with a dissertation later printed as Herodotos in the Greek Renascence (1902). Following a year of teaching at Centenary Collegiate Institute in New Jersey, he returned to the University of Texas in 1899 as an instructor; he became a full professor in 1917. Penick served on the faculty continuously for fifty-six years until his retirement in 1955 and never took a leave of absence. His principal field of instruction was New Testament Greek. In addition, he served as head of the correspondence division of the university from 1920 to 1927 and as assistant dean of the College of Arts and Sciences from 1928 to 1940.

Although his achievements as a teacher of classical languages were substantial, Penick was best known in the state and nation as a brilliantly successful tennis coach. In 1901 he led a campaign to get the university to provide tennis equipment for players and to stop charging students for time on the courts. He was an unofficial tennis coach for the university team until 1940, at which time he was put on modified status as professor of classics and tennis coach. While he was associated with the tennis team his teams won all ten of the Southwest Conference team titles awarded, took thirty-one of the forty individual doubles championships, and captured twenty-six of the forty individual singles championships. In addition, his men won five national doubles championships and two national singles championships. Two of them were members of Davis Cup teams. Penick served as president of the Southwest Conference for twelve years, from 1923 to 1934, and was president of the Texas Tennis Association for more than fifty years. He was voted into the Texas Sports Hall of Fame in 1962.

He became a pioneer in the campus ministry movement in 1899, when he organized and taught a special Sunday school class for college students at Highland Presbyterian Church (later renamed University Presbyterian) in Austin. He was an elder of that church for nearly fifty years and was the first layman to be selected as moderator of the Presbyterian Synod of Texas. His publications included an edition of Sallust's Catiline (1908) and, in collaboration with L. C. Proctor, Latin, First Year and Latin, Second Year, elementary textbooks (1927, 1933). He was the author of papers on classical subjects and numerous articles concerned with tennis. Penick married Chloe Parmalee Hastings on December 26, 1901; they had three children. He died on November 8, 1964, at the age of ninety-five, and was buried in Oakwood Cemetery in Austin.

Sam Hanna Acheson, Herbert P. Gambrell, Mary Carter Toomey, and Alex M. Acheson, Jr., Texian Who's Who, Vol. 1 (Dallas: Texian, 1937). Austin American, November 9, 1964. Carl John Eckhardt, One Hundred Faithful to the University of Texas at Austin (197-?). Vertical Files, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin.
  • Education
  • Educators
  • Classics and Philosophy
  • Sports and Recreation
  • Sports (Tennis)

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Harry J. Leon, “Penick, Daniel Allen,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed July 04, 2022,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

June 1, 1995