Delta pioneer Arne Knudsen, 1909-2007
Arne Knudsen spent a lifetime cheating death until it finally caught up with him on March 7, two months shy of his 98th birthday.
The North Delta pioneer, who last May received Delta's Freedom of the Municipality Award, the highest award the municipality can bestow, died peacefully after living a life Errol Flynn couldn't match.
Born in Denmark, Knudsen served in the Danish Navy before landing in Halifax during the Great Depression. He rode the rails, living in hobo jungles and relief camps before volunteering to fight Franco in the Spanish Civil War, in an anti-tank unit with La Guardia Roja, in the 1930s. After that, he settled in Port Kells for a spell but became restless and signed on to fight Hitler in Italy and Holland. In Italy, he escaped from a POW camp and in Holland, killed a Nazi SS officer in a me-or-him showdown during battle. He carried a photo of the man in his wallet well into his senior years, to remind him how precious life is.
After the Second World War, Arne settled in North Delta in 1946, under the Veterans Land Act, and started a chicken farm on Hellings Road. He and a handful of neighbours formed the North Delta Ratepayers Association that same year and despite considerable resistance from the Ladner-centric council - who referred to his group as the "Radical Veterans from Poverty Hill" - managed to secure water service for North Delta and formed its first volunteer fire brigade, after nicking a hose from the municipality on one moonless night.
In the 1950s, Knudsen volunteered to fight in what would have been his third war, the Korean war, but wasn't accepted because of a war wound he'd received during the last one.
Knudsen's memorial service was held at 10 a.m. today at the Fraser Heights Chapel. Former NDP premier Dave Barrett delivered the eulogy. Predeceased by his wife Paulina and son Ron, he is survived by his son Bob, daughter-in-law Margaret, granddaughters Shelley and Shannon (Dave), and great-grandson Nathan.
published on 03/14/2007