Obituary: Caroline Tendler, co-op campaigner and educator

‘Everything Caroline did was informed by her values and principles that she held so close to her heart’

Co-operators are mourning Caroline Anne Tendler, a co-operative campaigner and educator, who has died aged 76.

Born in Westport, New York State, Caroline was later involved in various capacities, with the Co-operative Group, Woodcraft Folk (the grassroots co-operative youth movement) and the Co-operative College, where she sat on the education executive. 

“I first met Caroline at the Co-operative College at Stanford Hall, at Directors‘ Courses and the Annual Education Convention (held every Easter weekend),” remembers Gillian Bober. “When I was chair of the National Co-operative Education Association, Caroline was my vice chair. We then both served on the Co-op College board for several years.

“She was an effective speaker – she always started her speeches with ‘Comrades’ as the opening word. She was also a true friend and a dedicated co-operator.”

Caroline was also a dedicated and enthusiastic member of the Woodcraft Folk for over 40 years and in her time held such a great number of roles – from parent, group leader and representative on Hampshire Area Council, to an elected member of the Standing Orders Committee, an elected member of National Council, the Woodcraft Folk’s representative on the Co-op College board and more recently a supporter.  

“Everything Caroline did was informed by her values and principles that she held so close to her heart,” says friend and former colleague, Adrienne Lowe. “She loved coming to [Woodcraft Folk] camp and even when her mobility was reduced and she could no longer stay, she would come and visit. 

“She really enjoyed watching young people putting her closely held values into practice. This could be playing co-operative games, doing the washing up together or singing and laughing around a camp fire while toasting marshmallows. The list is endless.”

Adrienne served with Caroline during many of her roles as well as those that she held within CRS and the Co-operative Group. “Her challenging of ‘we’ve always done this’ kept all of us on our toes and she will be sorely missed. Sleep well, my good friend.”

Caroline leaves sons Mike and Peter, daughter-in-law Jen and granddaughter, Tilly.