Donald Mercer Cormie

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  • "A long time ago the Bellamy family lived two doors away..."
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    - Will Brander
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CORMIE, Donald Mercer Was born July 24, 1922 and passed away at his home on February 20, 2010 at the age of 87, with his family at his side. A family service and interment was held on March 2, 2010 in Scottsdale, Arizona. His six sons were the pallbearers. He is survived by his wife Eivor, eight children, John, Donald, Allison, James, Neil, Bruce, Eivor and Robert, twelve grandchildren and his three sisters Evelyn, Allison and Helen. He was predeceased by his brothers George and Gordon. Don was born in Edmonton where his father, George Cormie, owned and operated the North West Mill and Feed plant (the Ritchie Mill), now an historic site through Don's efforts. He attended the University of Alberta where he received his BA & LLB and was the editor of the student paper The Gateway. He worked in the Merchant Marine from 1943-44. In 1946 he obtained his LLM from Harvard Law School in Boston. It was in Boston where he met and married Eivor Ekstrom, who was born in Eskilstuna, Sweden. They moved to Edmonton where he was called to the Alberta Bar and worked for Smith, Clement, Parlee and Whitaker. He co-founded Cormie Kennedy in 1954 which became the second largest law firm in Edmonton in the 1970's. He was appointed QC in 1964. Don started Cormie Ranch in 1963. The ranch was one of his great passions, eventually growing into a 22 thousand acre purebred cattle ranch near Tomahawk. At an Eskimo's football game in 1954, Don and Ralph Forster agreed to form an investment firm called First Investors based upon both men's lifelong practice of thrift. With the help of Don's friend and long-time partner, Ken Marlin, the company became part of the Principal Group, an Edmonton based financial services company supplying diversified financial services across North America. The companies grew into one of the largest non-bank financial companies and the sixth largest mutual fund manager in Canada. Each year Don brought graduates from leading North American universities to work in the fast growing Edmonton business. The Alberta recession of the mid 80's, which had already claimed all of the company's major Alberta competitors, also claimed these companies. Throughout his career Don was a great supporter of Edmonton and Alberta; as a sponsor for the 1978 Commonwealth Games held in Edmonton, fund raising chairman for the 1983 Universiade Games held in Edmonton, Director Banff School of Management 1968-71, Director Citadel Theatre 1968-70, Founding Member of the Business Advisory Council University of Alberta and supporter of the George M Cormie Endowment at the Western Centre for Economic Research, University of Alberta. In addition Don was past President of the Canadian Bar Association - Alberta Branch, a founding member of the Foundation for Legal Research, was instrumental in setting up the office of the Ombudsman for the Province of Alberta, was a member in the World Business Council, Young Presidents Organisation, Chief Executive Organisation, and the Deans Council of 100 at Arizona State University. Insatiable curiosity and a desire to experience other cultures inspired a lifetime of travel. Don took his family on many memorable trips, a highlight being one of the last western families to visit China before the Cultural Revolution. Don is remembered as a husband, father, grandfather, brother and friend who always expressed his love and devotion, had boundless optimism, a keen intellect and was delighted to share his passions, love of the outdoors and travel. Condolences may be sent to Mrs. Eivor Cormie and the Cormie family at [email protected] or Box 20100, Sidney, BC V8L 5C9.
Published in Vancouver Sun and/or The Province on Apr. 10, 2010
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