Born in a humble farmhouse in Tiege, Ukraine, raised on a homestead in Saskatchewan. A career as an educator while also running a company building custom houses. Instrumental in founding Capilano Christian Community Church. Post retirement found success in real estate. Raised a family of 5 (Kenneth, Raymond, Kathy - dec., David and Victor). Loved and lost his first wife Justina and his second wife Carol (Ma) and survived by his beautiful wife of 15 years, Anne. Also leaving behind grandchildren, great grandchildren, an adopted family and many, many others who cherished him. Lived a full life and ready to move on. Missed by all who knew him!

Posted by Anne Siegrist Penner on March 8, 2022
Dearest Jacob,
 Your loving presence is still so real on this third anniversary of your passing.
Every day
I know your love, your encouragement, your generous heart and unwavering faith in the God who loves us all.
 Thank you for the life you lived and the steady example you give us through these uncertain times. Your memory lives on.

Your loving wife,  Anne
Posted by Paddy Ducklow on March 9, 2021
I miss you Jacob. Though you have made us all bigger and better, the world is less without you.
Posted by Raymond Penner on March 9, 2021
Wow - 2 years you've been gone but you still feel so much right here for me. I am using so many of the tools you left me, sometimes blowing off the sawdust that was still there since you last used them. I feel your hands on them, you choosing them to do your projects - you always taught me that you buy a good pair of pliers or you will be buying many - you bought the good ones. How much you taught me about building things, fixing things, just to look at a project and figure out how to do it. You taught me and when you could no longer teach me, you stood out of my way and offered support and cheer leading. As I am writing this, your picture is smiling down on me and I feel the love you gave me and surrounded our family with. Hope you are enjoying this next round!
Posted by Anne Siegrist Penner on March 8, 2021
What can be added to the wonderful tributes to Jake, of his life so well lived and completed two years ago today? Perhaps one of his favourite quotes from the book of Proverbs in the Bible.
" Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct your paths". 
 Surely that was how Jake lived and how he would encourage us today
  Your loving wife,  Annie
Posted by Anne Siegrist Penner on December 13, 2020
Remembering dear Jacob with much love and respect on this special day; a loving husband and Father, so proud of everyone of his children. I am so thankful for the very happy years we shared together and many wonderful memories.
 Jacob's loving wife, Annie
Posted by Jennifer Jantzen on December 25, 2019
I was too young to know the politics of Chief Maquinna elementary as a student but was keen enough to notice the atmosphere that Mr Penner created and how he was admired and respected by the teachers who taught me. He also had a special connection to my family through his Saskatchewan roots.
Posted by Whitney Hoiberg on December 13, 2019
Happy Birthday Grampy. I miss you.
Posted by Sam Sullivan on April 7, 2019
Mr Penner was the Principal of my Elementary School and I sensed his wise and thoughtful leadership that permeated everything we experienced. He created a positive environment for learning and he was respected by all. When I graduated from high school and ended up in hospital I was very moved that he took the time to visit me. A very good man who has affected the lives of so many young people...
Posted by Paddy Ducklow on April 3, 2019
Jacob was my spiritual mentor and "adopted father." He worked to keep me out of trouble when I was a pastor at CapChurch. And we prayed together, as well as drank too much coffee and ate too little chocolate, talked about women, wondered what life or church could be like if... whatever. I will miss him. I have no one to curmudgeon with. And who will watch over the comings and goings of the Horseshoe Bay ferry now?
Posted by Barry Soper on March 28, 2019
For the past 21+ years since meeting Jake through Cap Church, and seeing him weekly at the Cap Church Men's Group every Tues. morning until the end of 2017, when he was no longer well enough to attend, spending time with this fine gentleman has been a great source of joy and inspiration - as an example of how a Christian man carries himself with compassion, dignity, and grace. Moreover, my wife Louise & I are reminded daily of this thoughtful man's desire to 'lift up' others through his gift of a beautifully hand-crafted foot-stool he made for Louise when she commented that she often experiences discomfort when sitting, due to having shorter legs than most. This treasured 'surprise blessing' occupies a place of prominence in our kitchen, where it's practical use reminds us daily of the unbridled generosity of a godly man focused on serving others! We know God is blessing Jake in Heaven, as Jake has blessed so many of us on earth!
Posted by Penny Tonge on March 24, 2019
Mr. Penner lead with compassion and kindness. He provided new beginnings for children who were in crisis and to have a place of belonging and a feeling of caring at school as we had nothing but turmoil in the place we were supposed to call home. On behalf of my brothers and myself, Thank-you. As adults, we now know what he did for us. Our lives may have had a very different outcome without his empowerment to the teachers and down to the children. We were taught to be kind and to always stand up for others that cannot stand up for themselves. We will miss him.  (This was sent to me by Lila Craig(Louie)   She and her brothers were in my class and they came to us after seeing their mother and 3 sisters killed in a hit and run.
Posted by Colleen Coulter on March 22, 2019
I worked at Brock Elementary, when Jake was in his last Principalship. We had a lot of fun with him over the years. One thing I really remember was the ping-pong. We had a table on the stage in the gym, behind the curtain. A group of the staff sometimes played the game to relax during the noon hour. Jake was fiercely competitive, and would always go for the ball. One day, as he did so, he couldn’t stop - and he flew through the curtain and off the stage, to the gym floor below. He wanted to get up, and move again. We insisted on a safety trip by ambulance to be checked out at the hospital. He was fine, somewhat sore, but, trooper that he was, he was back at school the next day. Nothing kept him down.
Posted by Dan Kowal on March 21, 2019
Three years as a beginning teacher at Chief Maquinna was defining for me as to how a school Principal , Jake, could make in allowing a wonderful, student-centered, school culture to develop. Hands off/hands on when needed. He had trust in his teachers to help students grow in all aspects of their lives. Thoughtful, considerate, caring.
Always to be remembered.
Posted by Anne Siegrist Penner on March 21, 2019
Your quiet strength
And steadfast love of God
Gave me the joyful gift to be
Your wife.
Your hands
So strong and skilled
Yet knarled with age and work
Form gifts to God's glory full of
Hands open
With gifts of joy
Hands lifted in praise to God
Hands at peace in the presence
Of Jesus.
Posted by Penny Tonge on March 21, 2019
I taught for Jake (Mr. Penner) twice. Once at Chief Maquinna and once at Norquay. He always made sure I could take my teams and gymnastics clubs to play and perform even in school time. Jake had a way of making it happen. Several of my Maquinna kids have expressed their condolences and recalled what he had done to make school a special place.
Posted by Alvin Unger on March 21, 2019
I always looked forward to the visits to Uncle Jake and Aunt Justina....back in the 50s to mid 60s. Uncle Jake always had time to talk and listen, and he had many interesting stories. My connection to the kids was Ray, who I always admired and looked up to....(he made a ring for my wife in the early 80s) and had many fun “cousin” times together. Karyn and I are traveling and won’t be back in time for the memorial, so we wish God’s presence on the family as you all celebrate a great man.

Leave a Tribute

Recent Tributes
Posted by Anne Siegrist Penner on March 8, 2022
Dearest Jacob,
 Your loving presence is still so real on this third anniversary of your passing.
Every day
I know your love, your encouragement, your generous heart and unwavering faith in the God who loves us all.
 Thank you for the life you lived and the steady example you give us through these uncertain times. Your memory lives on.

Your loving wife,  Anne
Posted by Paddy Ducklow on March 9, 2021
I miss you Jacob. Though you have made us all bigger and better, the world is less without you.
Posted by Raymond Penner on March 9, 2021
Wow - 2 years you've been gone but you still feel so much right here for me. I am using so many of the tools you left me, sometimes blowing off the sawdust that was still there since you last used them. I feel your hands on them, you choosing them to do your projects - you always taught me that you buy a good pair of pliers or you will be buying many - you bought the good ones. How much you taught me about building things, fixing things, just to look at a project and figure out how to do it. You taught me and when you could no longer teach me, you stood out of my way and offered support and cheer leading. As I am writing this, your picture is smiling down on me and I feel the love you gave me and surrounded our family with. Hope you are enjoying this next round!
his Life

This is a story of our father from his sons’ perspective. Dad’s story needs to be told with a historical context to understand his growth from a very strict and isolationist upbringing to the beautiful, open and accepting man that he became. The background was the crucible that later formed his spine and life experiences, his heart.


As an Anabaptist faith, and an expression of the Protestant Reformation the Mennonites escaped religious persecution, leaving the Friesland district in the Netherlands the latter half of the 16th Century for West Prussia where they established settlements.


The first group of Mennonites to leave Prussia and migrate to Ukraine which was part of Russia left because West Prussia King Frederick William III was making it difficult for Mennonites to acquire land because of their refusal to serve in the military due to their pacifist religious beliefs. Another reason was fear of the changes brought about by the French Revolution which overthrew the monarchy and threatened European civil order.


Mennonites in Ukraine showed their value to the country with agricultural and craft skills. The imperial Russian government wanted more settlers with these assets and Tsar Paul I of Russia enacted a Privilegium (official privileges) for Mennonites, granting them exemption from military service "for all time". They were promised the freedom to maintain Mennonite values including religious practices, pacifism and control of their own education. These were granted under the condition that they kept to themselves and didn’t proselytize – in other words try to get non-Mennonites to join them. This helped cement the Mennonite insular approach to the rest of the world. Refuge in Russia was seen as a secure future.


A second exodus of Mennonites left Prussia and formed the Molotschna Colony in Ukraine which consisted of 56 Mennonite villages – today these villages have disappeared and Molochansk is the central city where the colony was.


In early 1900’s, Dad’s parents to be - Heinrich KorneliusPenner and his wife Katharina (nee Martens) - moved to Tiege, which was a small village of 20 farms in the colony. Shortly after, Grandpa was the chosen as the village leader. While in Tiege, the Penner family grew – first to arrive were Cornelius, Peter, Helen, Tina and Henry.


1917 the Bolshevik revolution took place – during this time, Grandpa was conscripted to serve as a medic on a train for the Tsarists (the White army); his train was attacked by the Bolsheviks (the Red army) but his life was spared so he could continue to serve on the train as a medic for the other side.


1919, Nov. 14th, the Tiege villagers saw smoke from one of the neighbouring villages in the colony, the rest of the village went into hiding but Grandpa stayed – a large team of bandits overtook their town, demanding he take them to where the village treasury was hidden; they got on horses but when one of the bandits stopped to answer a call of nature, Grandpa kicked his horse and took off into the dark, escaping with his life; the next day they buried 44 dead from the neighbouring village, including his own brother, in a mass grave.

Dec. 13, 1920

Jacob Henry Penner, our Dad, was born in a humble farmhouse in Tiege.

The following year, Elsie joined the family.


Grandpa decided that the family should emigrate from Ukraine to Canada where many Mennonites had already located in the 1870’s, barely making the train to catch their ship to a new life. While waiting to board the ship, there was a frightening time when medical personnel thought that Elsie had TB but after a short while they cleared her for travel on board the ship.

Arriving via Quebec City, they went by CP Rail to Herbert, Saskatchewan before finally settling down in a small farming community of Blumenort, Saskatchewan 34 kilometers south of Swift Current where the family established a homestead.The Mennonite Brethren church at Blumenort, Saskatchewan was founded on 26 May 1926. Grandpa and Grandma were two of the twelve charter members.Shortly after arriving Dad’s family increased by one more – Frank.

Here Dad grew up and learned his many early lessons that helped define his approach to life:

  • Hard work
  • Cooperation
  • Making things happen
  • Facing rough times squarely on

During this time the Dirty Thirties brought severe dust storms and crop failures along with abject economic depression. To earn a little money, Dad trapped gophers which were very destructive on their crops and got a bounty of 5 cents for each gopher tail. Dad related experiences growing up of very sparse Christmases where the most the family could afford for gifts for the children was an orange and a few nuts. Even through this, he found beauty and meaning. He developed a life-long nostalgia for the prairies and often noted how he loved to see the wind blowing through the grain fields.

One of his favourite memories was when he and his father went by train with their thresher to work in a farm some distance away. While there, though Dad was very young, Grandpa let him drive the thresher – he reveled in being given so much responsibility and met it head on. He passed that trust on to his family in later years, offering the opportunity to develop and show success at a myriad of challenges.

Another story he told was taking the engine for their Diamond T truck apart as it wasn’t working properly and, after a few mistaken steps, putting it back together again and it worked – all this with no mechanical training at all and, considering how valuable the truck was to them, a huge risk.


After finishing most of his high school by correspondence, his father sensing that he had an academic ability, even during very hard financial times, sent him to finish high school at the Rosthern Christian Academy where he boarded, away from his family. It was tough on him being away and the school was a place of strict discipline.


World War 2 began. Being of prime age for conscription, following his faith that taking a life was wrong, Dad registered as a conscientious objector and served by painting ships in Victoria for the next 2 years. He had first hand experience at that time of government waste and mismanagement.


Following his service as a ship painter, he took teacher training at “Normal School” at 12th and Cambie. His first year of teaching was near Brooks, Alberta in a one-room school house – he talked of having to light a fire each morning on colder days to get the schoolroom warm and of being partially paid by food donations including moose meat.

(David) Dad told about how at the end of his first year of teaching he saw a new Ford at a dealership. He really wanted it, but it cost more than he was paid for the whole year. He ended up buying a used 1931 Ford Model A with a rumble seat for $700 - his first car.


Dad moved back to BC and started teaching for the Vancouver School Board.

His family moved from Saskatchewan to Yarrow near Chilliwack where Dad would visit on weekends and attend church – this is where he met our mother Justina Wiens. As seemed was his nervy way, he determined he would marry her when he first saw her and before they had even spoken.


Dad and Mom married in 1944.


Dad bought and sold a series of used cars in this time - bought for $200 and sold for $300 - his ads in the paper would have so many people turn up to buy this scarce commodity that they were lined up down the block when he came home from school. He ordered two new cars in 1945 but cars were scarce right after the war and the first one delivered came in 1947 which he promptly sold for a tidy profit and then the second one ordered in 1945 came in 1949. These were the beginnings of many cars the last car bought only a few years ago (another one of his early and pervasive loves). His last driver’s license was issued when he was 95 and expired on his 100th birthday.

Mom and Dad were living in a basement apartment in Vancouver and Dad saw lots for sale on 41st Avenue by Prince Edward so he went to the bank and convinced them to lend him $5000 which he used to buy a lot and build a house – this was enough to build the basic structure and finish the basement where they lived while Dad continued to work on finishing the upstairs – that house still is standing.

Mom and Dad started a family – first with Kenneth, Raymond, and then eight years later, the second half with the adoption of Kathy followed by David and Victor.

After a number of years as a teacher, Dad moved into school administration. One of his assignments was Principal of the place where he took his training that had became an elementary school. This school included a section for deaf students which opened up in him a new understanding of how people can adapt and thrive though often mistakenly being seen as “less than”.

He also used the summers. Early years he worked as a carpenter.

(Raymond) one of my favourite memories is when I was 4 years old and Dad was working with a group of carpenters a half-block away. Mom made him a lunch and gave it to me to deliver – when I got there, Dad picked me up and sat me down on a pile of lumber and shared his lunch with me together with the whole crew – I was so proud!) There were no power tools at that time and Dad talked of chopping the rafter angles with an axe. Years later, Dad turned his knowledge of construction into a small, custom home development enterprise.

In 1954 he had his first major financial set back. He had managed to buy a three story walk-up apartment building (rooms by the week or month) – the St. Leonard on Nelson Street just off of Thurlow in Vancouver. He had also purchased a grocery/meat market/frozen storage business in White Rock operated by a butcher. Dad became suspicious that the butcher was stealing cash sales and giving credit very loosely to many people. He hired a private detective to find out what was happening and somehow in talking to people, he told them what the detective had found which was confirming the theft – however, there wasn’t proof and he and Mom got sued for defamation and had to pay $50,000 – an enormous sum! This led to losing the St. Leonard and the White Rock business plus having to borrow money from one of his brothers.

He never looked back and ten years later by 1963 had managed to pay off this debt. At first, he augmented his teacher earnings by taking on sales jobs in the summers – encyclopedias, cookware, siding, Fuller Brush, real estate. He also worked weekends and evenings as a parking attendant for the BC Lion home games so he could get his family in to see some sports. In addition to the summer jobs he took, he started his own contracting company building quality spec homes.

(Raymond) Years later when I had a financial hit, he said – if you focus on the money, you focus on the wrong thing.

Late 1970s Dad and Mom lost everything again when the economy collapsed after finishing building his and Mom’s dream home. They had moved in and hadn’t yet sold their previous house – they were forced to sell both at a huge loss.

(David) Dad and I did a lot of work on that last house in the Properties. We did all of the cedar ceilings, the cedar siding and made all of the kitchen cabinets from rough ash. One of my distinct memories was being up on the roof measuring for siding. Dad cut the pieces but they didn't fit. Turns out I was measuring in metric and Dad’s tape was in inches only. I think about working on that house with Dad often when trying something for the first time. You accept that mistakes will happen, just keep working.

Through these years Dad was very active in the Mennonite Brethren Church as a Deacon, an Elder and finally as an Assistant Pastor. These were a combination of administrative and spiritual leadership and reflected his deep devotion to Christianity – a faith that he diligently practiced in his everyday life.

(Ken) One of the earliest and overriding memories of Dad was his love of Jesus and his faithfulness to the church. When I was in my early years I recall Dad and Mom praying for us. Until his final years I would speak to him about his faith and he was always a student and a studier of the Bible. He assured me that he was ready to meet his Creator and spend eternity with Him.

In the early 1970’s Dad and Mom started feeling a need to have more of a community focus with their Christian faith and moving away from the more insular and prescriptive approach in the Mennonite Brethren Church. They were instrumental in helping to start the Capilano Community Christian Church. They both found that this was more in keeping with their evolving sense of Christianity that maintained a strong sense of fundamentalism and faith while being much more open to diverse views and backgrounds. For the rest of his life, this was his spiritual home. Today this church continues to thrive with a strong, vibrant and diverse congregation.

1981 - 2017

Mom passed away in 1980 after a prolonged illness.

In 1981 he married Carol Paynter – Ma to us. It was in this relationship that he started to grow as a person – a growth and beauty that kept improving to the day of his passing. While he was always a fair and helpful person, he also had an inner stern quality and had often, from the time he was a young man, felt angry inside. Carol showed him a path to becoming much more serene and relaxed. They took trips to abroad to Europe and closer to home, fell in love with Yellow Point Lodge on Vancouver Island. He learned to stop and look at how beautiful the shape of a tree was in the winter after the leaves had fallen – he said before Carol, he had never really looked at a tree. Through this time, what emerged was the evidence of the incredible qualities that we saw in Dad – while he always was been a highly principled man and hard working, his patience, acceptance, generosity of spirit and time bloomed.

In 2003 Carol passed away, and anticipating that her time was coming soon, pointed to Annie as her “Last best friend” who had recently lost her husband Gary, also a mutual friend of Dad and Carol’s and said to Dad that he should marry again and that he should marry Annie Siegrist. They had become friends through the Capilano church.

In 2004, Dad and Annie started seeing each other socially and then one day when asked how this was going for him, Dad reported that he and Annie had been at the tulip festival in the Skagit Valley and that he had taken her hand telling her that he felt like a teen in love. In 2005 Dad brought Annie into our family and she brought us into hers. After renovating Annie’s home in Horseshoe Bay they moved back there and Dad’s favourite chair was overlooking the ferries, the ocean and the mountains.


After he had been diagnosed with melanoma in 2018, Dad toughed out the radiation treatment and was proclaimed cancer free. However, we could all see that the treatment had weakened him and that his strength and health were slowly fading. We all hoped that when his time to go was here that it would be as he slept in his favourite chair but that wasn’t to be.

(Raymond) Even when his hair had partially disappeared from the radiation and he was still quite weak, he didn’t like it if his hair (what there was) had grown too much. I had several opportunities to take him for haircuts with his favourite barber, Tony, who took great care to “neaten” him up. These outings were a highlight for him and after the haircuts, I would drive him around to see various construction projects - he always was interested in to see what developments had taken place. Sometimes these outings ended with a White Spot lunch – he loved the honey-garlic wings!

Dad’s last days were spent in the Lion’s Gate Hospice which focused on comfort and pain management. While Dad lay in the hospice, Annie was his faithful companion, sleeping in the same room and only occasionally being spelled off by other family members. It was a time that we all had lots of opportunity to express our love for him, in person, by phone and FaceTime. He was surrounded by love and we all know he felt it. One of the most touching moments while he was in the hospice and starting to fade, on February 13th he whispered to Susie, Annie’s daughter, to buy roses for his sweetheart. The next day, Valentine’s Day, a beautiful bouquet of a dozen red roses and a lovely card for his beautiful wife that Susie wrote on Dad’s behalf arrived for Annie at the hospice – to the end, he continued to show his love for her and she for him. Expecting when Dad and Annie married that they might have five years together, they had a wonderful marriage of fourteen years before Dad passed away.

What an honor to have had him as our Dad.

Recent stories

for us

Shared by Rob and Jenn Ohlhauser on April 14, 2019

Rob and I came to CapChurch in 1998. Jake came to meet me and find out who my people were.  We are mennonites on my Grandma's side. Jake knew my Grandma, Kay Brose, and some of my great aunties and uncles... John and Mary Fast (nee Dyck), Jack and Rose Dyck and others. They lived in Yarrow too. I felt good knowing about that connection.  Coming from long lines of faith has always made me happy. 

When we were first married, Jake and Carol invited us over for lunch after church. I remember being immature and wondering, "why?" - I hadn't yet been exposed to people who wanted just to hang out and be hospitable for the sake of relationships; I had previously only known people in the church to host something to get a project done or because one was related to someone. It was a silly response, I know, but it opened up something for me... 

I became an elder a couple years later and prayed, learned and cared for people alongside Jake and others who were older than me. I learned a lot in those early years of eldering. I knew enough by then to keep my mouth shut and listen and learn. (No one made me feel that way, but I thought it was best! - but sometimes I forgot. :) ) 

For years, probably close to 20 years, after those early eldering days, Jake would say hi on a Sunday morning and ask me how I was doing and reassure me that leading something, or preaching something, or raising our kids well was important and good work.  I really appreciated that.

One of the early times that I experienced hearing the whispers of the Holy Spirit inside me was one morning at church when people were being prayed for. I joined a circle praying for Carol and Aaron Fee who were sick. I remember God whispering to me to pray for peace for Carol as she would be going to be with Him and for faith as Aaron would be facing hard things. Sorry, that's not really a story about Jake - but part of my faith experience. 

Blessings to all who grieve Jake's passing.  May the stories of who he is in the shadows and in the sunshine carry us on. 

Jenn Ohlhauser

Wonderful friend

Shared by Irene Penner on April 13, 2019

Ray and I moved from Winnipeg to Vancouver in 1963 with a one year old son and a second child about to be born. One of our first priorities was to find a church and we chose Killarney Park Mennonite in south Vancouver. If I remember correctly, Jake and his first wife Jessie were the first people there to invite us to lunch with them after church.

Perhaps because we shared the same last name and they had a son named Ray, we bonded. It was the beginning of a friendship that would span 56 years and three wives. Jake had good taste in wives -all three were, and are, winners,  and we were privileged to share many good times with Jessie, Carol and now Anne.

I can’t find words to do justice to a man like Jake, a man gifted, multi-talented, sensitive to people’s needs and always eager to pitch in and help. He was an amazing multi-tasker,  working simultaneously as a school principal, church administrator, builder and ---? He loved to create in his workshop and many of us were gifted with rocking horses and we with his expertise in finishing our basement. 

Jake maintained a positive attitude to life even in tough times, losing his only daughter, Kathy, and his beloved wives, Jessie and Carol. In his latter years he courageously battled cancer and endured the necessary treatments.

The key to Jake’s long and fruitful life was, of course, his faith in God. This faith was most evident in his love for people. He was an encourager, a hugger supreme and we all the beneficiaries.

Recently we visited Jake and Anne in their lovely home in Horseshoe Bay. By now Jake was spending many hours in his rocking chair enjoying a beautiful view through his living room window and praying through the church list for us all. Shortly after, he entered hospice where we visited daily. Ray finally encouraged him to jump over the Jordan-and so he did. And  now he is enjoying life with Jesus and his heavenly Father.

Jake,  you will be in our hearts until we meet again.

Shared by Raymond Penner on April 10, 2019

i sit
looking west
i see the hill
you lived beyond
i wait the day to end
my tears have passed
now only
my eyes behold
the blazing flame of a setting star
your time had come
another journey for you to take
travel well dear father
i will see you always
in the glory
of the rising sun