84-year-old Okanagan resident finishes 12,000-piece puzzle

Willie Tribiger started the puzzle in 2013, completing it in six and a half years

It may have taken him six-and-a-half years, but for Willie Tribiger, completing his 12,000-piece puzzle was totally worth it.

The 84-year-old Kelowna dairy farmer said he started the puzzle on Dec. 3, 2013, finally completing it on May 22, 2020. Before then, the puzzle was just at home, untouched.

“We were on a trip in 1985 down east and our friends there took us to Michigan, to a little town called Frankenmuth and that’s where I found this 12,000-piece puzzle,” he said.

“That interested me. I thought it would be quite a challenge so I bought it … but it was just upstairs in one of the rooms for years, probably 30 years before I took it out.”

Tribiger said the puzzle took so long because he took breaks from it.

“There were many times where I wasn’t working on it for a long time, especially in the summers when I had a lot of farm work,” he said. “But when I did work on it, I’d sometimes work on it for a whole day.”

Tribiger offered some tips for those who are also interested in completing a big puzzle: separate the pieces and put similarly-shaped ones together in separate bowls. That way, when you look at the pieces that you need, it’ll be easier to know where you can find them.

Another tip is to work on the puzzle in sections. For his piece, Tribiger divided the picture into four, working on each quadrant separately so he didn’t get too overwhelmed.

His last advice is to have patience with yourself and the process, especially on days where it gets difficult. He also said that keeping your sights on the goal will help you keep going.

“I never lost interest because I always had in mind the end. I really wanted to see the finished product,” he said.

“If I start a challenge, I don’t like to give up. I like to see the end.”

Since he still works as a dairy farmer and he still has many woodworking projects, Tribiger said he’s relieved to finally finish the puzzle and focus on those things.

“I’ve got so many things to do, I won’t live long enough to do them all. There’s always something to do.”

READ MORE: Hidden cameras in Okanagan forests catch illegal dumpers, lead to fines

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Twila Amato
Video journalist, Black Press Okanagan
Email me at twila.amato@blackpress.ca
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