Kenn Grainger was born March 7th, 1927. He moved to Peterborough with his family when he was 15 from Neepawa, Manitoba. He had four kids with his wife Irene, who passed away in 1992 after a battle with breast cancer. Kenn has outlived most of his friends and three of his children.
Kenn Grainger at Fairhaven (August 14th, 2017)
Kenn worked in the construction business, but where he really gets the most out of life in its adventure. Of having an impact on family and friends, and in giving back through volunteering and public speaking. Indeed, he has been a lifelong volunteer for over 60 years.
He first caught the volunteer bug in his late 20s when he started volunteering with the Kinsmen Club of Peterborough. He's also been involved with Kiwanis Club, YMCA and the United Way of Peterborough. He was Chairman of the CNIB and is currently, at age 90, Chair of the Pathway to Fame in Peterborough, something he himself was inducted into in 2005. For over a decade starting in the mid-Nineties, he was a motivational speaker in local schools.
Kenn Grainger in his room at Fairhaven
Also, Kenn is legally blind—he has macular degeneration, which first came on suddenly on November 5th, 1992 (yes, he remembers the exact day it started)—but has still remained active and involved in the community. He started skydiving regularly at age 70, after he went blind. He has waterskiied on Stoney Lake at age 88 and ziplined off of Fairhaven at age 89, both to raise money for Fairhaven where he resides.
KenN and his wife Irene: The photos hang on his wall at Fairhaven and were taken in 1990 after she was diagnosed with breast cancer. "We better get these taken," she said, "as we don't know how long I'll have." She died in 1992.
He works the phone with friends and for organizations every day, and makes you feel like you're his best friend and you've known him forever. He loves to talk and to listen, and has a photographic memory right down to remembering your phone number.
He moves about Fairhaven with ease and by memory, and knows exactly where every single picture hangs in his room. He loves going out for social occasions but doesn't drink—and rarely has. "I've probably had the equivalent of one case of beer in my lifetime," he laughs.
Ken gets a lot of phone calls
Based on his own approach to life and living, Kenn gives PTBOCanada his 12 Secrets To Living A Great Life below...
1. "There's no point in worrying about stuff you can't do anything about. Just live. If you can't do anything about something that has happened, don't sweat it. Move on."
2. "You're affected by your environment. You're a product of your environment. Community and friends have a tremendous impact on who you are."
"If we each do a little bit, we all do a lot." —Kenn Grainger
3. "If you want to have a friend, you have to be a friend."
4. "Keep perspective. Keep a positive attitude. Keep looking at the positive rather than negative side of your conversations and interactions with others. Because negativity around you usually takes you to more negavity. Positivity does the opposite."
5. "I hate boredom. I'm always looking for things to do. Keep active, keep moving. When I cut off driving because of my eye condition, I started skydiving at age 70. And I continued to do the things I was already doing, like volunteering."
A student made this for Ken covering his amazing journey in life: "Make the Best Of What You Have".
6. "Give people a chance. Always look at someone new with an open mind. Meet new people and give them the benefit of the doubt. Give them a chance. Listen. Because you just never know."
7. "It's never too late to change, and be a better person."
8. "I've always tried to make friends, day after day, month after month, year after year. It's an impossibility to have too many friends."
9. "If you're fortunate enough to have kids, teach them the best things in life. Teach kids good manners. Teach them how to be polite. Teach them how to be good people. Your kids learn from you very quickly, the day they are born actually. They catch on from a very young age. They're observing, listening. Kids have ears and they pick up things you think they might not hear. Say and teach them the right things."
10. "Volunteer. I believe in volunteering for the good of society. If we each do a little bit, we all do a lot. There is hundreds of ways we can make a difference."
11. "I don't have any bad friends because if they're bad, they're not my friend. If someone is my friend, it's because they're a good person."
12. "I like the good things in life, the positive things. I want to leave an example. You can't say one thing and do the opposite. I want to leave an example to people to inspire them."