Obituary: Bruce Thordarson (1948-2018), former director general of the ICA

Mr Thordarson 'will be remembered as a remarkably staunch advocate for co-operatives all around the world'

Bruce Thordarson, who served as director general of the International Co-operative Alliance from 1988- 2001, has died aged 69 after a stroke and a fall.

During his time at the Alliance, Mr Thordarson played a role in drafting the Alliance’s Statement on the Co-operative Identity, which was released in 1995. He and his team organised regular international and regional meetings that allowed some 10,000 people to be consulted on the document.

Bruce Thordarson

Before taking on the role of director general, Mr Thordarson served as the Alliance’s head of development and associate director.  

In a letter to members, the current director general, Bruno Roelants, said: “Bruce Thordarson was associated with our organisation for many years and was an excellent person to work with.

“He was a tireless, dedicated and enthusiastic co-operator even in the most testing times for the recognition of the global co-operative movement by international institutions.”

Born in Saskatchewan, Canada, on 14 April 1948, Mr Thordarson studied at the University of Saskatchewan, and later at Carleton University, Ottawa. He published books on Canadian political leaders Pierre Trudeau and Lester Pearson.

He served as director of government affairs at the Canadian Cooperative Credit Society ( 1976-1979), before taking up the post of executive director at the Cooperative Union of Canada, (1979-1985). Prior to this he was special assistant at the Canada’s Parliamentary Centre for Foreign Affairs (1972-1974) and policy advisor at the Ministry of Manpower & Immigration (1974-1976).

Later in his career, Mr Thordarson carried out consultancy work for the Canadian Co-operative Association in Indonesia and Vietnam. More recently, he volunteered to help the co-operative movement in Indonesia with various seminars and workshops.

And he served on the board of the Funeral Co-operative of Ottawa from 2012 to 2015.

A statement on the co-op’s Facebook page said: “He will be remembered as a remarkably staunch advocate for co-operatives all around the world. Virtually Bruce’s whole career was spent working with co-ops.

“A short service will be held at FCO this coming Saturday, April 14, 2018 at 10AM to mark the death of Bruce, and a memorial service will take place later this summer.”

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