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Prominent Kelowna homeless advocate dies

Thiessen regularly fed and clothed those living on city streets
JohnThiessen was a tireless advocate for Kelowna’s homeless. (Facebook)

A man well-known to Kelowna residents and especially the homeless community has died.

John Thiessen regularly fed and clothed people living on city streets, and used social media to raise awareness of the constant need to help others.

His wife, Debra, announced on Facebook on Dec. 4 that he had died.

“Sharing very sad news. John Thiessen who has been my best friend since I was 19 and my husband for 34 years passed away Dec. 2 at the young age of 60 from yet another heart attack. Funny, kind, caring, empathetic, and talented to name a few of his qualities. We find comfort knowing he is no longer in pain. Hopefully, someone will take over the much-needed caring for the unhoused on the streets of Kelowna in his absence.”

Thiessen’s daughter Katie also took to Facebook to share the family’s grief.

“My dad, was truly one of a kind. Kind (he spoke a lot about kindness), compassionate, empathetic, weird (so weird), resilient, stubborn, generous, thoughtful, friendly, goofy, and tender-hearted. I will remember him for all these things and more. In memory of my dad, give someone a compliment, a hug, or give something to someone less fortunate than you today.”

City councillor Loyal Wooldridge, and Mayor Tom Dyas, paid tribute to Thiessen at council’s Dec. 5 meeting.

“I want to offer my condolences to the Theiseen family and thank them for everything they’ve done for to support the most vulnerable in our community,” he said.

Dyas also spoke to Thieseen’s compassion.

“I know John was a champion within this community and tried to take care of as many individuals as he could,” said Dyas. “He had an amazingly big heart.”

A GoFund has also been set up in Thiessen’s name.

“It is my promise that if you feel inclined to donate, the funds collected will go towards John’s true passion, helping our unhoused (In John’s Honour!) and a portion of the funds will go to the Heart and Stroke Foundation in memory of John,” reads the page set up by Chrystelle Crockford.

A celebration of life for Thiessen will be held in January.

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Gary Barnes

About the Author: Gary Barnes

Recently joined Kelowna Capital News and WestK News as a multimedia journalist in January 2022. With almost 30 years of experience in news reporting and radio broadcasting...
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