Ronald SOUTHERN

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SOUTHERN, Ronald Donald
C.C., C.B.E., A.O.E., B.Sc., LL.D
July 25, 1930 – January 21, 2016
It is with sadness we announce the passing of Ron Southern on January 21 in Calgary. He lived an extraordinary life building and accomplishing what very few can dream of.
He is survived by his loving wife Margaret (nee Visser) and his two daughters whom he adored; Nancy (Jonathan Asselin) and Linda (Tom Heathcott) and grandchildren Kelly Koss-Brix (Brian), Kyle Koss, Ben Asselin, Patrick Heathcott, Ronald Heathcott and Charlie Heathcott. Ron is also survived by a number of nieces, nephews and cousins. Born Ronald Donald Southern on July 25, 1930 in Calgary, Alberta, Ron was predeceased by his parents Ina and Donald Southern.
Ron lived in Calgary but traveled the world extensively his entire adult life. He was a proud Canadian and loved his Alberta roots. As a young man he was a gifted athlete who loved sports and played hockey, football and basketball.
Ron left Calgary after graduating from Crescent Heights High School to attend the University of Alberta. He completed his Bachelor of Science from the Faculty of Medicine in 1953.
While still in high school, he founded Alberta Trailer Co. in 1947 with his father Samuel Donald. Starting with five people the enterprise today - ATCO Group - has grown to more than 8,000 employees worldwide.
Ron was a self-made businessman who became a respected giant of Canadian commerce. His success included gas and electrical utility companies, midstream, drilling, pipelines, logistics, manufacturing, workforce housing sales, leasing, maintenance and operations.
ATCO Ltd. and Canadian Utilities Limited, which ATCO acquired and repatriated in 1980, have done business in more than 100 countries around the world primarily through its Structures and Logistics businesses that provide workforce housing and other infrastructure solutions. The firms' utilities businesses operate in Canada, Australia the United Kingdom, and Mexico.
Ron and his wife Margaret of sixty-one years were the vision and driving force behind the creation, construction and operations of Spruce Meadows, which is widely recognized as the leading show jumping facility in the world. Since opening in 1975, Spruce Meadows has hosted athletes from more than 60 nations and attracted 10.2 million fans.
In addition to acting as Chairman of the Board of ATCO, Canadian Utilities and AKITA Drilling Ltd. for decades, Ron actively enjoyed his time on the Boards of Directors of a number of Canada's most prestigious companies including: Canadian Pacific Limited, Chrysler Canada, Imasco, Lafarge Canada, Royal and Sun Alliance (RSA), Trimac, Pacific Western Airlines, Canadian Pacific Airlines, Canadian Airlines, Xerox Canada, Mercantile Bank, Canadian Export Development Corporation, Southam Inc., Crown Zellerback, and Fletcher Challenge.
Numerous awards were bestowed upon Ron for his remarkable efforts, achievements and contributions including: Companion of the Order of Canada 2007, Alberta Order of Excellence 2012, The Queen's Golden Jubilee Medal 2002, The Queen's Diamond Jubilee Medal 2012 and The Canadian Forces Medallion for Distinguished Service 2013.
A lifelong sportsman, Ron was recognized as the Calgary Booster Club Sportsman of the Year in 1986. He was inducted into the Alberta Sports Hall of Fame in 1992, and the Canada Sports Hall of Fame in 2006.
In 2013 he was named honorary chief of the Tsuu T'ina Nation and given the name Chief Sorrel Horse.
Ron was also recognized as an Internationalist. In 1990 Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II bestowed on him a member of the Order of the British Empire for his services to Anglo – Canadian relations and in 1995 he was promoted to the level of Commander of the Order of the British Empire.
The Government of the Kingdom of the Netherlands inducted him into the Order of Orange-Nassau in 2006 and honored him with the Holland Trade Award in 1985 in recognition of his substantial contributions to the Dutch Foreign economic relations.
Ron received an Honorary Doctor of Laws from the University of Alberta in 1991 and an Honorary Doctor of Laws from the University of Calgary in 1976.
In 2007 he was inducted into the Canadian Manufacturing Hall of Fame. In 1996 Ron was recognized by the Financial Post as the CEO of the Year in Canada. In 1990 the University of Manitoba recognized him as the International Distinguished Entrepreneur and in 1986 the University of Alberta recognized Ron as the Businessman of the Year.
Ron traveled the world and met most of the business leaders in those countries as well as many of the political leaders of the 20th century. He took a great interest in the people and the cultures where he visited and his vast memory could recall the most extraordinary details. He cherished his many years on the Trilateral Commission.
He valued education, reading newspapers, and loved books. Most weeks he would devour at least two or three on a variety of subjects from military biographies and autobiographies to mysteries, outer space, national and international leaders, but his greatest reading enjoyment and inspiration came from books by and about Winston Churchill. He collected these and never tired of Winston Churchill quotations, speeches and proclamations.
Ron was a proud Royalist and was delighted when Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II came to Spruce Meadows in 1990 to inaugurate the Queen Elizabeth II Cup. This spawned a relationship that took Ron to Buckingham Palace on numerous occasions as a guest. At various times it allowed for the opportunity to introduce his daughters and grandchildren to Her Majesty.
Ron lived a life full of adventure. He was loved, respected and admired by many and will be in our hearts forever.
The family would like to give special heartfelt thanks to Dr. Barry Baylis and Loralee Baylis for their excellent care and compassion over the last few years. Most sincere thanks as well are extended to Marites Avila, David Hamilton and Doug Weitz for their expert care and committed service to Ron.
A funeral service will be held at 11:00 a.m. on Thursday, January 28, 2016 at Spruce Meadows, 18011 Spruce Meadows Way S.W., Calgary. In lieu of flowers, if friends so desire, donations will be gratefully received by the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF ), Mr. David Prowten, President and C.E.O, 2550 Victoria Park Avenue, Suite 800, Toronto, Ontario, M2J 5A9. Or, alternatively, contributions can be gratefully made to the Spruce Meadows Beautification Fund, c/o Spruce Meadows, R.R. #9, Calgary, Alberta, T2J 5G5. Donations to both can also be made online at www.sprucemeadows.com/ memorial.
Those wishing to pay their respects can also do so at McInnis & Holloway (Park Memorial),
5008 Elbow Drive S.W., Calgary on Wednesday, January 27, 2016 from 6:00 p.m. - 8:00 p.m.

Funeral Home
McInnis & Holloway Funeral Home - Calgary
5008 ELBOW DR. S.W.
Calgary, AB T2S 2L5
(403) 243-8200
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Published in The Edmonton Journal from Jan. 23 to Jan. 26, 2016
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