Arnold Penno

Golden Moments: Ontario native found a home in Golden

Arnold Penno moved to Golden from Thunder Bay in 1957 with his family. Golden quickly became his home and he’s lived here ever since.

Arnold Penno moved to Golden from the Thunder Bay area in 1957 with his family. Golden quickly became his home and he’s lived here ever since, notwithstanding some trips to Arizona in his motorhome during the winter to escape the cold.

Penno worked in the lumber industry for almost all of his working life, eventually owning a share of Evans Forest Products along with several partners. While his work at the lumber yard kept him busy, it was his volunteer work on top of that that makes it hard to imagine how he had the time to do it all.

Penno, who still lives with his wife Carol in the home they built, was heavily involved in minor hockey in Golden as both a coach and president. This gave him the opportunity to coach his son, Bill, and despite all of the hard work he had to put in, he enjoyed it immensely. The travel time was another aspect of coaching hockey that made it such a big commitment.

“We’d go to Invermere, Cranbrook, Nakusp, Fernie, we’d go for tournaments in Calgary,” he said. “It was [a big responsibility]. You had to make all the times for games and get people out and figure out who was going to drive who.”

As if that wasn’t enough, Penno also took on the responsibility of plowing the parking lot at Sacred Heart Catholic Church with his pickup truck , along with the driveways of several senior citizens in town. Penno would spend hours outside helping out whenever Golden was hit with a nasty winter storm.

“The old timers, you know, they just couldn’t do it,” he said.

“All of these ladies in their 80s and 90s, he’d go and help them all. They were so happy,” Carol said.

Penno has had to slow down now in his older age because of some health issues. He has suffered a series of heart attacks with the first occurring in 1992. On that day, he felt some discomfort in his chest area but didn’t think too much of it at first and rested alone in the couple’s bedroom. He eventually decided he’d better have Carol take him to the hospital.

“I fought it for quite a while. I was probably there for an hour…(Eventually) I just couldn’t stand the pain anymore. I’ve never been in that much pain in all of my life,” he said.

He had a second heart attack in 1994, and he wasted no time in alerting Carol on that occasion.

“I just said, ‘let’s get out of here’,” Penno said.

Penno had to experience a change of lifestyle and he retired in 1994 when he sold his share of Evans back to his partners.

“I knew I had to take things a little bit easier,” he said.

Now, Penno has an implantable cardioverter-defibrillator (ICD). The ICD is a small, battery-powered device that is set to deliver a shock to the Penno’s heart should it detect any irregular activity. The device also sends signals to a hospital in Boston, which then forwards the information to the Foothills Medical Centre in Calgary. Penno has experienced the shock just once.

“It probably saved my life…I passed right out in the laundry room and it gave me a big shock and woke me up. They called me from Calgary the next morning and said ‘you’d better get in here Mr. Penno’,” he said.

Over the years, Penno has also enjoyed playing golf, hunting and cross country skiing. Carol and Arnold have four children in all and are proud grandparents of 13 and great-grandparents of six. The couple has been unable to make the trip down to Arizona in recent years because of a variety of health issues, but they hope to be able to go down south next winter.

Through it all, Penno remains happy in Golden to this day and can’t see himself moving anywhere else.

“People have asked me why I don’t buy something down in Arizona. We like it here, you can’t get any better than this place,” he said.

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