1926 – 2016
On July 23, just weeks before his 90th birthday, Kaj slipped away quietly in his sleep after a short illness and many years of declining health.
Kaj was born in Copenhagen in 1926 to Kirsten and Oskar Jensen, the second of 4 children. As a boy he ran errands to help provide for his family, and as a teen he trained as a typewriter mechanic. He loved music and was a good dancer; one of the times he crashed a private dance, he met Aase Jensen. In 1951 he married her and whisked her away to Canada with $20 in his pocket. They lived in Toronto for 5 years (where their two daughters were born) and then drove a Volkswagen van to Vancouver to set up a typewriter store for Kaj’s employer. In time Kaj built up several businesses of his own, eventually moving from repairing and selling typewriters to selling other office equipment to rebuilding printing equipment and helping people set up small print shops. When he closed down Western Offset Rebuilders, some of the equipment followed him home so that he could continue having fun printing booklets for his daughter’s class.
Kaj was a hard worker and a real wheeler-dealer. Soon after he arrived in BC, he traded 7 typewriters for a piece of land, and together with Aase built a house in the forest by the Coquitlam River. In 1967 they moved to a bigger house in West Vancouver, which they renovated several times. He enjoyed auctions, and over the years bought and sold a lot of paintings, antique furniture, Danish vases, and other treasures to decorate their home. He enthusiastically embraced new technology, rushing out to buy (or trade for) the earliest models of microwaves, audio and video recorders and players, digital cameras, and anything to do with computers. As newer models came out, the older ones filled his basement workshop and became parts for his inventions. He especially enjoyed modifying inkjet printers to print large copies of the paintings he scanned from library books – stacks and stacks of them. Sometimes he would add his own brushstrokes to the printed canvases. He also collected recordings of jazz, big bands, and classical music. Sadly, Kaj’s vision and hearing declined severely after he retired, making it difficult for him to fully enjoy his art and music. However, he continued to scheme and tinker, trying to concoct systems to override his sensory problems.
Kaj and Aase enjoyed playing bridge and taking vacations with their life-long friends, Erik and Kirsten Madsen. They also made several trips to Europe and welcomed many Danish relatives into their home.
Kaj was friendly, loving, generous and supportive. However, he preferred phone calls and visits short and sweet, even from his daughters and their families. He would always declare that each one was the most beautiful and talented, just as every cup of coffee or tea and every meal was the best he ever had. His conversations were peppered with puns and terrible jokes, and he had pet names for many of his relatives: Baby School Teacha, Li’l Anna, The Giant, The Undertaker, The Trumpet Player, Chicken Legs, Danny Boy, Little Kaj, or the multi-purpose Little Sweet, Little Love, Big Boy, Little Boy, Big Girl, Little Girl. As his dementia progressed, he often had to be reminded of the number and names of his descendants. Then he would say, “I love them all!” and ask how he could help them.
Now that Kaj has joined his devoted wife Aase, his elder brother Valdemar, and his little sister Anny, he will be deeply missed by younger brother Ole; daughters Ann (John) and Janet (Peter); and grandchildren Dan (Lindsay), Julia (Zane), Tara (Steve), Ian (Kristen), and Ryan (Mandy); along with his nieces, nephews, in-laws and friends. He was delighted have met 9 great grandchildren (Oskar, Sadie, Ivan, Ramona, Matilda, Atticus, Ruben, Flynn, Milo) and was tickled pink that two of them had his names included in theirs.
Many thanks to the staff at Dufferin Care Centre for looking after Kaj in his final six months of life and to Zane for his excellent handling of Kaj’s final arrangements.
A private gathering is being held.
Those wishing to make a donation in Kaj’s memory might consider CNIB. http://www.cnib.ca/en/get-involved/make-a-gift/Pages/default.aspx