When you get to age of 90, take a leaf out of Len's book
The only way to describe our long time Parksville Golden Oldies Sports Association (PGOSA) member, Len Peterson, is to say, “He is still going strong at the ripe young age of 90!” With his athleticism and physical ability he would put to shame many younger gentleman PGOSANS .
Len was born on April 6, 1926 in Camrose, Alberta; his siblings and parents lived on a farm in Czar but the nearest hospital was few train stops away in Camrose.
There were nine children in his family and they all had farming chores to keep them busy before/after school and on weekends.
As well as growing grain, a staple of neighbouring farms, they had animals - cattle, hogs, and chickens so there was always a variety of farm work to be completed - all shared between the siblings. Harvesting season meant lots of hard physical work as the grain had to be cut, thrashed, formed into hay bundles, loaded by hand on a large wooden trailer with racks, which was pulled by horses.
By 14 years of age, Len was a full-fledged farm worker with his physical ability growing stronger as he matured and worked the farm.
Near the end of the Second World War and at the age of 18, Len joined the armed forces and moved to Dundern, Saskatchewan for his basic training. The physical aspects were long and exhausting but Len’s determination and farm boy strength carried him through.
Just before being sent off for more advanced training, World War II ended and Len returned home to Czar where he continued his work at the family and neighbouring farms.
Through his early twenties he took various different jobs in surrounding towns working in sawmills, building houses and labouring in a strip mine.
Len’s short stint in the army made a lasting impression on him - he hadn’t forgotten those war years and as a result he became active in the Royal Canadian Legion.
Celebrating and remembering those he trained with and the Canadian soldiers who fought in the war during Remembrance Day Services, has become a lifelong tradition for Len. A Royal Canadian Legionnaire for 50 years now, Len proudly wears his 50 year medallion on his navy Legionnaire blazer. He participates every year in the Legionnaire Parade to the cenotaph in Parksville, marching proudly as once an enlistee in the Canadian Armed Forces. At the Parksville Remembrance Day service each year he presents a memorial wreath at the Cenotaph on behalf of his fellow PGOSANS.
Most of Len’s adult working life was spent as a long distance trucker – the highways between Winnipeg and Vancouver were Len’s home for more than forty years. He hauled various freight loads in Western Canada for several small companies before landing a job with Camrose Transfer which he held for fourteen years. In 1971 Len bought his first highway tractor and operated as an owner-operator for twenty-one years with Kingsway Freightline; he named his company Lenjea Ent. Inc., after his and his wife’s firs names and operated out of his home terminal in Edmonton.
In January, 1993, Len and his wife Jean, left Alberta to retire in a house they had purchased a few years earlier in Nanoose Bay. Now with more free time on his hands and at home rather than the highway, he took up playing the sports he enjoyed or never had enough time for during his working life – softball, golf, curling, skating and X country skiing.
Joining PGOSA in 1996, he has been very active in many of the sporting events they offer. He played slow pitch softball for 18 years, rotating through a variety of infield/outfield positions and has curled for 20 years as a regular in the PGOSA house league at the Parksville Curling Club. Still sliding out and throwing “out of the hack” while looking like a pro, he can hit the broom and place the rock where the skip called for it. He teammates yell, “Another one just the same as before, Len,” as he throws his lead rocks.
Len took up a new physical challenge at the age of 70 – learning to ice skate. He skated for 20 seasons but gave up that activity after a nasty fall last winter that sent him to the Urgent Care facility in Parksville for treatment. A favorite sport of his in the warmer spring and summer months is golf. He plays golf almost daily in Alberta when he makes an annual visit to see family during the month of June and frequently visits some of our own nine whole courses with family and friends. When asked if he uses an electric or motorized cart he says, “No way, I’ve always walked the course and that’s the way golf was meant to be played.” His driving distance off the tee has diminished over the years but his accuracy hasn’t and his love for the game is still very evident. This past season he played approximately 500 holes of golf – quite an accomplishment for a 90 year old!!
In his large and rural style backyard, his hobbies are well displayed as he cuts and stacks his own firewood for the wood burning stove and keeps the yard’s decour interesting with home-made furniture, a furnished gazebo, and animals, figurines he has carved out of fruit or arbutus wood. When asked what his secret was for longevity and living an active, healthy lifestyle he replied, “Never give up – eat, drink and be merry!” As one who never shied away from hard work and who has kept himself busy and physically active his entire life, Len is a true inspiration to all of us. Oh, to be so full of life and enjoying oneself during retirement years!