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Penticton resident and concentration camp survivor celebrates 102nd birthday

Joe Knypstra, a retired baker from Kaleden, turned 102 on Jan. 3
Concentration camp survivor and Penticton resident Joe Knypstra celebrated his 102nd birthday on Jan. 3 with friends and staff at the Concorde Retirement Residence in Penticton. (Photo courtesy of the staff at Concorde)

Penticton resident Joe Knypstra has reached yet another milestone.

The concentration camp survivor celebrated his 102nd birthday at the Concorde Retirement Residence in Penticton on Jan. 3. With his family on the coast and the lockdown in full effect, the party was a little different this year.

But that didn’t stop the retirement home staff from making sure Knypstra would have his day and that the century-long milestone would be celebrated.

Before being taken into a concentration camp, Knypstra was a member of the Netherlands resistance against German authorities. He spent most of his time helping Jewish people who were hiding from Nazis in the Netherlands.

Knypstra was taken by German soldiers in 1943 and spent the next two years in a Nazi concentration camp. And 11 years after that, he would make his way to Penticton for good.

In his younger days, the now 102-year-old was well known as a baker in Kaleden as he delivered bread to people in the area. Even today, Knypstra is still remembered as a baker in the South Okanagan, according to close friend John Pettifer.

“Apart from a hearing issue and poor near-sightedness, Joe is in superb health,” Pettifer wrote in an email to the Western News.

A father of seven, Knypstra has spent the last several years sharing his story with others in the South Okanagan.

It’s that signature smile that Knypstra kept on his face when celebrating his 102nd birthday on Jan. 3.

“To keep young, you have to keep smiling and keep happy,” he told the Western News on his 100th birthday.

READ MORE: Penticton Museum to host lecture on the Warsaw Uprising

READ MORE: Concentration camp survivor from Penticton turns 100


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