The Vancouver Sun from ,  on January 3, 2003 · 21
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The Vancouver Sun from , · 21

Issue Date:
Friday, January 3, 2003
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LOWER MAINLAND & B.C the Vancouver sun. Friday. ianuary3.2.k,3 . v. J .'- - ' S . 1KB - Jean Piry (below right) who turns 107 on Saturday, is dead centre and wearing a floppy hat in the photograph above, which was taken in Siberia in 1917 while Piry was with the French army. Piry survived that fighting against the Bolsheviks, then lived through the Japanese occupation of Shanghai in the Second World War and the loss of his business when Mao took over China In 1949. A toast to B.C.'s senior senior Jean Piry celebrates his 107 birthday Saturday 44 .' 1 t'i" iif - an A f 4 vJitr iC'J KJ'1 By JOHN MACKIE after Mao's Communists took mopolitan population, over in 1949. But when he finally In 1929, he married Sonia Got-was allowed to leave China for fried, a young woman of Jewish -ean Piry is the most cos i ft hi Ji mopolitan 107-year-old you Hong Kong in 1951, he rebuilt the and Polish descent. They had could ever hope to meet. business, which he ran until he three children, Janet, Pierre and Born in Hong Kong, raised in retired and moved to Canada. Daniel. Shanghai and a Vancouver resi- Piry is virtually deaf, but seems Always an enterprising fellow, dent since 1968, Piry is fluent in quite fit, retains a full head of hair Jean Piry kept his family well fed five languages English, French, and has a healthy appetite, during the Second World War Cantonese, Mandarin and Shang- favouring Chinese food, choco- with his numerous contacts, hainese. late and strong coffee. "When things got really bad he He considers himself a regular "When we take him for a long stashed away a couple of gold I guy, a man of moderation who ride we put him in a wheelchair, bars at the top of a door," said doesn't get overly excited about but usually he just gets around Pierre Piry. ' things. But he has quietly led a with his walker," said his son He talked an engineer friend very remarkable life. Pierre, 61. into building him a homemade To put things in perspective, "Which he hates using. The coffee-roasting machine, decades when Piry was born on Jan. 5, other day we found him down- before Starbucks made strong 1896, China was still run by the stairs without his walker. He said coffee fashionable. Emperor Henry P'u Yi of the he refused to use it: 'That's for "He got this guy to build him a Ch'ing (Qing) Dynasty, Queen old people.' " metal canister, and he'd roast his Victoria was in her 59th year on Piry may be the oldest person own coffee at home," Pierre Piry the throne and MacKenzie Bow- in B.C. the previous record says. "He'd dismantle my mom's ell was prime minister of Canada holder, 110-year-old Ethyl Miller, gas stove, hook in the tubes and Piry was born in the year gold died in 2001. He is also the oldest roast his own coffee. It had to be was discovered in the Klondike, known First World War veteran just right, not burned." the year of the first motion pic- in Canada. Pierre moved to Canada in 1959 tures, the year of the first mod- His paternal grandfather, to study at the University of B.C. em Olympics, the year Henry Pierre Piry, moved to China in and the rest of the family fol-Ford built his first car. The year 1865 and established the post lowed. For many years, Jean and F. Scott Fitzgerald, George Burns office in Shanghai He married a Sonia had an apartment in the and Wallis Simpson were born. Chinese woman and had six chil- South Granville area, but they During the First World War, he dren, including Arthur Piry, moved to the Royal Arch Mason-joined the French army and was Jean's father. ic Home in Champlain Heights in sent to Siberia to fight the Bol- Jean Piry never knew his moth- 2000. Sonia died in March. The sheviks. He lived through the er, who died during his birth. He couple were together for 71 years. Japanese occupation of Shanghai was raised by his father's sister in Jean Piry is being feted today in the Second World War, then Shanghai, back when it was an with two other centenarians at a lost his import-export business economic hub with a very cos- birthday party at the Royal Arch. IV j V : r. !- ' - - I GLENN BAGLO VANCOUVER SUN Jean Piry, who marks his 107 birthday on Saturday, at two stages In his life with wife Sonia. till Mrl ,.. . -I- : U-. i i J 1 A

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