Red Deer’s Wilfred Kenzle nearly lives to see 105 years

Kenzle’s death last month falls seven years short of Red Deer’s oldest citizen

One of Red Deer’s oldest men passed away, just short of his 105th birthday.

Wilfred Kenzle, who died surrounded by family at Red Deer hospital on June 22, is a rare Central Alberta male who survived a whole century plus four years, according to local historian Michael Dawe.

Kenzle had made it into the Advocate at least twice. In 2013 he and another citizen were recognized by former Red Deer mayor Morris Flewwelling for turning 100 years old.

And in 2015, Kenzle and his wife, Ida, were featured in a story about their 80th wedding anniversary — an occasion that also prompted letters of congratulations from Queen Elizabeth and former Canadian prime minister Stephen Harper.

The couple spoke of being “quickly” married in Sylvan Lake on Feb. 7, 1935, because a brief, no-frills ceremony was all they could afford during the Great Depression.

Ida (who later predeceased Wilfred) joked that one factor in their long and successful marriage was her latent hearing loss.

Wilfred reminisced about becoming a carpenter and helping build homes in Central Alberta after leaving the farm. The Saskatchewan native, who was born in 1913, recalled all the dirt roads in this region during the “horse and buggy days.”

Kenzle, who would have turned 105 years this month, is survived by six of his seven children with Ida, as well as 14 grandchildren, 20 great grandchildren and 3 great-great grandchildren.

A celebration of his life will be held Saturday, July 7, at 3 p.m. at the Sylvan Lake Seventh-Day Adventist Church.

Dawe believes it’s unusual for men — who generally don’t last as long as women — to live as long as Kenzle. But he noted that anyone vying to become the city’s oldest-ever citizen has a long road ahead.

According to articles from the Red Deer archives, Agnes Munce, who died at nearly 112 on Dec. 16, 1988, was not only Red Deer’s oldest citizen, she was thought to be the second oldest person in the world.

Munce had been born in 1877 near London, Ont. She left home at age 16 and made her own living as a seamstress at a hat factory before following her soon-to-be husband, John, to Lacombe in 1901.

The couple homesteaded in a two-room log cabin and raised five children. Munce survived her spouse by nearly half a century. She lived on her own until age 102, when she broke a hip.

Even after moving to a nursing home, Munce was able to recite the alphabet backwards. She became the oldest-ever Canadian to hold an Olympic Torch before the Calgary Olympic Games.

When asked by a reporter what guided her in life, Munce at age 99, said, “I wasn’t overly religious, but I always tried to live by the Commandments and do what was right.”

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