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Turning 101, Penticton veteran looks back on life
Penticton Western News - 1/24/2021
It may not have been an easy year, but Henry Kriwokon turns 101 on Jan. 26.
The World War II veteran, still in his own home in Penticton, is one of two living veterans from the famous 'Wait for me, Daddy!' photo.
For him, it's hard to describe what being 101, or 100 is like, compared to any other year close to that.
"101? I don't know, I've got to get there first," said Kriwokon. "People ask that, I don't know how to answer that, I don't feel any different."
With the pandemic, Kriwokon has been careful to make sure that he stayed safe, refusing visitors and keeping up with his family over the phone.
Born in Saskatchewan in 1920, Kriwokon spent 40 years in Hope after serving in the Second World War (WWII). He then moved to the United States for a year after his wife passed away before he finally moved to Penticton in 1999.
When he shipped out as part of the war effort, he stepped into Canadian history as one of the many soldiers captured by photographer Claude P. Detloff.
|Wait for me, Daddy. The photo was captured on Nov. 1, 1940 as members of the B.C. Regiment (Duke of Connaught's Own Rifles) were preparing to board the S.S. Princess Joan at the New Westminster CPR docks. (Claude P. Detloff)
The crossing itself wasn't a pleasant one, with the seas wracked by storms, but that may have helped Kriwokon make it to England.
"I wasn't seasick. But with the seas like that, the (enemy) subs couldn't operate, and the Atlantic was full of them during the war."
Kriwokon is now one of only two remaining soldiers whose photo was taken by Detloff.
"There were 1,000 in that picture, there's only two of us left. The other lives in Summerland."
It was the climate that kept him in the Okanagan. It was the closest thing in temperature and climate to Arizona, and it had had health care.
"I lived for 40 years in Hope … down there it's quite a lot of snow, and always it's heavy, heavy rain and wind."
Last year, he celebrated hitting the century mark with a party at the Polish Bistro in Penticton. This year, the plan is to have a take-out order from the bistro for his birthday.
He doesn't have much to say about how to reach 101, but he does have some lessons that he feels he's learned over his life.
"Stay away from booze, except maybe the odd beer, stay away from drugs. And keep active, that's about it."
Even with 101 still ahead, he's looking forward to more birthdays yet to come.