Mark Goldblatt died suddenly on February 3 of a heart attack. Mark was a lifelong champion of co-operation as a co-op leader and advocate. He had many accomplishments. He was a founding member of the Board of Directors of Canadian Co-operative Association, the first Executive Director of Co-operative Housing Federation of Canada, a Past President of the Canadian Worker Co-operative Federation, a co-founder of Rooftops Canada and the current President of the Funeral Co-operative of Ottawa.
Mark was a friend and colleague to many in the co-operative movement. Along with our heartfelt condolences to his family and friends we have collected the messages that have been shared by many on this blog. Feel free to share your own below in the comments. If you would like to send condolences privately to his wife, Linda O’Neil, her e-mail is firstname.lastname@example.org
Mark’s memorial service will take place at 3:00 p.m. this Sunday February 8 at the First Unitarian Congregation of Ottawa at 30 Cleary Avenue. [map]
Mark was a gentle, inspirational and creative person. He was instrumental in building institutional capacity in so many co-operative worlds across business sectors. He touched people in whatever he did. He was also a voice of steadfast support in the most difficult moments of the creation of CMC. We’ve lost a mentor, a leader and a dear friend.
Denyse Guy, Executive Director of Co-operatives and Mutuals Canada
It’s a very sad day. Mark Goldblatt died suddenly of a heart attack yesterday. Mark was one of my best friends & an extraordinary, generous & visionary human being. He was president of the organization I work for (CWCF) for 14 years, and until his passing was our volunteer Government Relations Officer. The also-too-soon departed Ian MacPherson described Mark to me over 20 years ago as, “one of his heroes.” Without him, the co-op housing movement, worker co-op movement, and I’d argue the entire co-operative movement in this country and beyond, would not be what they are today. I know that you will rest in peace, Mark. My heart goes out to all who knew & loved him. Linda, Alexandra, Colin, April, Greg, Lobie, Maureen, Peter, Alain, Jamie, Reba, Stephen Jessica, Allan, Susan, Rebecca, etc.
Hazel Corcoran, Executive Director, Canadian Worker Co-operative Federation
Mark was a true co-op housing pioneer and leader. He was a visionary whose ideas, such as a pooled investment program, were before their time. It was Mark who first crystalized the resolve and determination of our movement into the phrase ‘Co-op housing never takes no for an answer.
Mark was one of the kindest, most generous people it has been my privilege to know. He will be greatly missed and long remembered.
Nicholas Gazzard, Executive Director, CHF Canada
Mark was instrumental in putting both CHFT and CHF Canada on a sound financial footing by taking steps to ensure that both federations charged meaningful dues to their members. At CHF Canada, he invented the idea of sector support. It is not an exaggeration to say that CHF Canada and CHFT would not be the organizations they are today if he hadn’t passed through them.
Alexandra Wilson, CEO, Agency for Co-op Housing and former CHF Canada executive director
Mark has been an inspirational leader in the co-op housing movement for the last five decades. In fact Mark was a founder of this movement.
He mentored new staff like Harvey Cooper and me. He helped to found Co-op Housing Association of Ontario, Rooftops Canada, Colandco, numerous co-ops in Toronto and Ottawa, initiated the first public housing conversion, provided support and encouragement to help found federations and resource groups. Mark did the initial work on the Atkinson Co-op.
Mark was organizer who believed in going out and helping our members. He believed in people and saw their potential. He knew co-ops were not perfected and enjoyed get them on the right track.
Tom Clement, Executive Director, CHFT
Mark played an absolutely critical role in launching Rooftops Canada. It was his vision that led to the very strong partnership with CHF Canada including the annual contribution which he felt was necessary to guarantee that we could always have some core staff and operating funds. He will indeed be sorely missed and long remembered.
Barry Pinsky, Executive Director, Rooftops Canada
Mark is the person who talked me into an accidental career in co-op housing during a visit to Saskatoon in 1981. His contribution to the sector defies measurement.
Mark would not want to be remembered for any individual contribution. He would simply be happy for our success. The best way we can thank him is to be even more successful.
Thom Armstrong, Executive Director, CHF BC
A great loss to our movement and to Mark’s many many close friends and admirers. Many of us are both.
Nick Sidor, Director, Corporate Affairs, CHF Canada
Very sad news.
Mark was one of the incorporators of Dufferin Grove Housing Co‑op – my first co‑op client as a very green brand‑new lawyer, back in 1974.
Dufferin Grove was one of the earliest housing co-ops under the then brand-new CMHC co-op housing program.
On the incorporating document he is described as a Community Organizer. Mark continued to be a community organizer for the rest of his life.
We’d met on the Artistic Woodwork picket line the previous fall, where I was volunteering to bail out picketers arrested, and Mark and his friends were there supporting the strikers.
Mark always supported the powerless, and, more than most, understood the potential for the co-operative model to deliver power to the powerless.
We worked closely in the nineteen eighties when the potential for worker co-operative development excited him and many others. He was central to the formation of the Worker Ownership Development Foundation and the resource group Co-operative Work.
We ran across each other a number of times since, but his move to Ottawa led to far less contact.
I, and our sector, will miss his boundless energy and commitment for building a better world.
I remember the first time I met Mark at a co-op meeting in the 80’s. I was unemployed along with my fellow workers and we were thinking about starting a natural food store which would become The Big Carrot. I knew nothing about co-ops. He was sitting on a couch perhaps at Don Altman’s home, expounding on the possibilities and so excited I wondered “who is this guy” and why is he so passionate?” As I got to know him I could see that he was passionate about everything, about life in general. I asked him to be one of the Board members for Carrot Cache in early 2000 and he dutifully took the train to Toronto four times a year to help us think through this new foundation. He loved the start-up stories and the entrepreneurial spirit of the young people and he always had an opinion.
I really enjoyed knowing Mark and would like it if someone could pass on my condolences and support to his life partner.
Mark believed passionately in co-operatives and put body and soul into building the sector. His untimely death at a relatively young age is a terrible shock and a great loss to the co-operative sector and to all that knew him. He will be missed!