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Born: Dec 05, 1940

Date of Passing: Jun 19, 2017

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LAIRD FORBES RANKIN To celebrate my 75th birthday, my sons, Scott and Matthew, gave me something I had dreamed of for decades: a trip to New York City to see a production of a Metropolitan Opera. The three of us saw Manon Lescaut on February 27, 2016. While the opera was a disappointment, our three days together were not. They were special, memorable, and too short. Here is my back story: Laird Rankin passed away suddenly on June 19, 2017. He was born December 5, 1940 in Winnipeg. He is survived by his former wife, Lynn; sons, Scott (Toni Wu) of Austin, TX and Matthew of Montreal; and his sister, Elizabeth (Buff) Mills of Dundas, ON. He was predeceased by his father Forbes, in 1965, and mother, Eyleen, in 2000. Laird was educated in Winnipeg schools and graduated from the University of Manitoba with two Bachelor's degrees; Arts, in 1962; Commerce, in 1964. At university, he was active in the Arts Student Body Council and Phi Delta Theta Fraternity. Following graduation, he joined the Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce and worked for that organization for two and one half years. In October, l967, he joined the Hudson's Bay Company to help implement events to commemorate the Company's 300th anniversary. His chief responsibility was organizing and managing the summer tours of the Nonsuch - a replica of the sailing ship whose voyage in 1668 led to the Company's founding in 1670 - and bringing the vessel to Winnipeg for installation in the Manitoba Museum. In 1975, he became Executive Director of the Alumni Association of the University of Manitoba and Editor of the Alumni Journal (now On Manitoba), dual positions he held for 19 years before becoming the founding Executive Director of Canada's National History Society in 1994. He became publisher of the Society's magazine, The Beaver, (now Canada's History) in 1997. He retired in 2004. Laird enjoyed an active community life, having served in volunteer capacities with the Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce, the United Way, the Manitoba Historical Society, the Manitoba Magazine Publishers Association and, most recently, the Winnipeg Arts Council, which designated him Chair Emeritus in May, 2016, in recognition of services rendered during his decade on its board. Among other honours, Laird was presented with the Meritorious Service Cross, M.S.C., (Civilian Division) in 2000, by Governor General Adrienne Clarkson, to recognize his work in establishing the Governor General's Award for Excellence in Teaching Canadian History, a national program to honour Canada's best history teachers. Laird was the author or co-author of five books, a journalist and, for a period, a free-lance broadcaster with CBC Radio. His first book, The Nonsuch, was published in l974 and revised and reissued in 2004 as The Return of the Nonsuch. His articles and reviews appeared in a number of local, regional, and national publications. At Laird's request, cremation has taken place and there will be no service. Instead, donations in Laird's memory would be appreciated to either The Winnipeg Foundation, 1350-1 Lombard Place, Winnipeg, Manitoba R3B 0X3, in favour of the Winnipeg Arts Council Agency Fund; or, to the Manitoba Museum, 190 Rupert Avenue, Winnipeg, Manitoba R3B 0N2, in favour of the Nonsuch Gallery. "I cannot pretend I am without fear. But my predominant feeling is one of gratitude. I have loved and been loved. I have been given much and I have given something in return; I have read and travelled and thought and written. I have had intercourse with the world, the special intercourse of writers and readers. Above all I have been a sentient being, a thinking animal, on this beautiful planet. And that in itself has been an enormous privilege and adventure." - Oliver Sacks Bardal Funeral Home, 843 Sherbrook Street, Winnipeg in charge of arrangements.

As published in Winnipeg Free Press on Jun 24, 2017

Condolences & Memories (12 entries)

  • I am saddened to learn of Laird's passing. We were friends at the University of Manitoba and served together on the Arts Student Council. In later years, we reconnected, although not recently. I always found him a joy, funny, so smart, and kind. His career is a measure of the man and he will be sorely missed. My condolences to his family. - Posted by: Sheila Hurtig Robertson (Uhiversity friend) on: Aug 07, 2017

  • I first met Laird while sailing on the Nonsuch. What a great fellow Laird was to us all during those years. Understanding and patience are only two virtues among many that were needed by Laird to look after us during those years. He had these in "spades". We remained in touch by the internet and telephone over the years and I always looked forward to his correspondence. I feel fortunate to have known Laird and will miss his humor and wit. Bye Laird, Richard. - Posted by: Richard Quinn (Friend) on: Aug 03, 2017

  • My condolences to Laird's good family and friends. Such sad news. Although I did not know Laird well I thought him to be a kind and gentle person. Today I know more and understand why I had the impression I did. He is truly more than that indeed. Long live his legacies. Thank you Laird, and well done! - Posted by: Jill Palmer (McWhinney) (Friends via the arts and entertainment world) on: Jun 28, 2017

  • The Alumni Association of the University of Manitoba, with which Laird was so closely and productively connected, was our meeting ground. I had been recently widowed and was trying to establish self as a freelance writer. I didn't get paid for my contributes to the Alumni Journal but I did get published and encouraged by Laird. I have a feeling that he was largely responsible for my Alumni Award. He was a generous man. Bless him. - Posted by: Bettyjane Wylie (friend and cohort) on: Jun 28, 2017

  • I met Laird when I was hired, along with Sam Richards, as a Manitoba representative on the crew of the Nonsuch. What an experience that was, both on the ship and knowing Laird. The consummate professional he made sure that we were all neat and tidy at all of the events we were expected to attend. As a crew member they got tiresome but Laird was always there to make sure that we did what HE expected us to do. He was a great friend to us all and I know that he will be missed! - Posted by: Hugh Swan (Friend) on: Jun 26, 2017

  • Winnipeg, Manitoba and Canada has lost a true friend. - Posted by: Leslie Stafford (Colleague and friend) on: Jun 26, 2017

  • I was invited to Laird and Lynn's wedding in 1968 at the Chamber of Commerce. My memories of Laird from before the wedding, were of Laird playing piano at family functions and again at Christmas, when our Grandfather/Grandmother would get all the family (Aunts, Uncles, Mom, Dad, brothers, sisters, cousins) together at the (now defunct) Royal Alexander Hotel on Main Street. Laird and I took different paths after school. Laird involved in many academic pursuits and "Arts" projects such as the Nonsuch, ultimately making Winnipeg a better and more sophisticated City. I went on to own and run the family business. Although, its been a few years, the last time I saw him was at my mother's "celebration of life" in March of 2013, Laird had never changed much........kind, sympathetic, but, also friendly and always with something amazing or witty to say........even in a time of grief. My mom and Laird were always kindred spirits, and, there was no doubt in my mind........although never spoken.......Laird was a favourite. Rest in Peace Laird, wherever you are! - Posted by: Keith Dangerfield (Cousin) on: Jun 26, 2017

  • I'm kinda a clown and a marketing guy, Laird to me was an intellectual - opposites attract and he and I for life. Laird shared countless hours with me at U of M and probably deserves most the credit for my B of Arts degree. Though separated by distance we always stayed in touch. We visited when we could at Fraternity reunions, the odd lunch if I was in The Peg and the hospital a few days after his 1st big med issue. I could always make Laird laugh so lately as editor of hundreds of jokes received on line I would select maybe 2% I thought he would like to him and he always would acknowledge his enjoyment or if not I was sent to the penalty box for 2 weeks (no jokes to Laird). Laird gave back to all and everything he knew or touched. You will be missed so much. - Posted by: John C Wilson (Lifelong friend and Fraternity Brother) on: Jun 25, 2017

  • I first knew Laird when his sister Buffy was taking dancing lessons with Mary Strome and my mother was the pianist of the dancing school. In adult life I knew Laird at the University of Manitoba with his work at the Alumni Association and as Editor of the Alumni Journal. Although we did not see one another for long periods of time, Laird and I always greeted each other. Both of us being historians, I appreciated his deep dedication and enthusiasm about historical times and how important they are to preserve. His work in so many areas was greatly respected and acknowledged by the community here and abroad. My deepest condolences to his sons, sister, extended family and friends. - Posted by: Morna-June Morrow (Long time acquaintance) on: Jun 24, 2017

  • You'll be missed. - Posted by: Scott (Friend) on: Jun 24, 2017

  • Laird did many things and he did them often to enhance the life of others. But I can offer no greater personal tribute than to say that Laird was a kind and loving friend to my mother, Ma Fen. Thank you Laird, rest in peace. - Posted by: Jim "Flash" Fenwick (Friend and Brother in the Bond) on: Jun 24, 2017

  • Laird will always be remembered for his wit. But his effect on our lives was often more profound. Laird, and Lynn, had a major impact on our lives. They influenced major life choices which enriched our lives in many ways. We will miss and fondly remember him. Dan, Connie and Ben - Posted by: Dan, Connie and Ben Buchann (family) on: Jun 24, 2017

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