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Peter Henry Penner

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Peter’s early life was difficult: his father, who had health problems, worked hard on the farm, and his mother struggled with an injury sustained as a nurse during WWII in Russia. Peter loved farm animals. His family moved to Coaldale, Alta., hoping for an easier life. Finally, meat and potatoes were on the table, and occasionally, pie. They saved for a move to the milder climate of Sumas, B.C., where Peter met Lydia. They started life together on a dairy farm, then a raspberry farm. Peter introduced his children to riding miniature horses and hunting skunks. As a second job, in 1974, Peter worked at the Vancouver Zoo, where he stayed for 17 years. Tina the elephant became his special friend; he was the only one who could handle her. Peter’s rheumatism led him and Lydia to a condo in Abbotsford, B.C., where he enjoyed playing Chinese checkers and teaching it to others. He called these “the best years of their lives.” Peter and Lydia enjoyed picnics and treating grandchildren to KFC. Shortly after Lydia’s death, Peter moved to Menno Hospital, where he became known as “the gentle giant.” He accepted everyone. In Peter’s last weeks, he had difficulty breathing. He confirmed his faith in Jesus to the chaplain hours before his death.    

  • Birth: October 4, 1927
  • Birthplace:
    Waldheim, Sask.
  • Death: November 20, 2014
  • Parents:
    Peter & Margaret (Unger) Penner
  • Married:
    Lydia Martha Hooge, Apr. 25, 1957 [d. 2008]
  • Family:
    children Beverly, Daniel; 6 grandchildren; 1 great-grandchild
  • Church:
    Clearbrook MB, Abbotsford, B.C.