Remembering Sid Pobihushchy

sid.jpg
Sid Pobihushchy with author Tom Webb.

Editor’s note: Sidney Pobihushchy died November 23, 2006, at age 74. Those who met him encountered a generous and unpretentious man, memorable for his large ears, his large smile, and his large vision.

Sid dedicated his life to promoting the cooperative movement. He was past resident of Co-op Atlantic, Fredericton Direct Charge Co-op, and other co-ops both in Maritime Canada and worldwide. He was a professor of political science for 27 years, retiring in 1995, and also was an avid supporter of the rights of the aboriginal people. U.S. cooperators knew him through his occasional presence at co-op meetings and conferences here and through cooperative tours to Canada.

Sid also was actively involved with the Saint Mary’s University Master’s program in cooperative and credit union management. On the day of his death, his colleague in that program, Tom Webb, offered its students a tribute (below) to a talented and visionary cooperator.

—Dave Gutknecht

Dear Colleagues,

I am writing in great sadness to inform you that our friend and colleague Sidney Pobihushchy died this morning. For the past couple of years he has been in ill health and those of us close to him have keenly felt the loss of his profound thinking, ardent support, and warm friendship. We watched his failing health with sadness, remembering his eloquent speeches, the truly good wine he made, his storytelling, his many talented grasp of engineering, plumbing and woodwork, his qualities as an educator, his love for his family, and his sheer energy.

A bright star has fallen from the co-operative sky. Sid’s clear thinking about co-operation and his tireless efforts to promote it were an inspiration to thousands of co-operators around the world and, especially, where he toiled so hard, in Atlantic Canada. Sid’s heart and mind saw the world, every waking minute, through the lens of co-operative values. That lens was the basis of his prodigious vision. It shaped how he saw and loved his family, what he read and how he interpreted the world and its often troubling events. He saw so clearly the promise and opportunity of co-operation and sometimes felt deep frustration that everyone couldn’t see, what to him, was simple, powerful and clear. He saw co-operative values as deeply rooted in the human experience, as representing the very best of humanity, as consistent with his own deeply held spiritual faith. He felt the keen pain of a visionary in a troubled world.

He was deeply committed to the Masters program. The program was truly born one evening over a glass, or perhaps two, of scotch in a hotel room where we bemoaned together the failure of co-operatives to educate their managers, the lack of truly demanding co-operative management education, and the high price both co-operatives and their managers were paying for that reality. Without Sid’s tireless dedication, the supporters of the program may never have materialized. Without the inspiration of his thoughtful vision it would have been far less robust. In moments of greatest doubt he would fashion grim determination and transform it, with relentless energy, into joyful action. Fueled by his enormous vision he refused to accept failure and savored success.

Sid was fond of saying, “If you don’t know where you are going, any road will do.” It was a failing he seldom if ever suffered from. He had a profound vision of a better world shaped by deeply held values, nourished by phenomenal reading and scholarship, reflecting co-operation and respect for the dignity of others. He shared it freely with anyone who was eager to listen—and a few who were not. He was an eloquent speaker and a gifted teacher. His vision inspired thousands. Sid’s star is gone but behind he has left his vision sparkling in the eyes of others. His star has become a hundred stars, all of which, like the North Star, call out to the oppressed and the searching, “Follow this way, for in this direction lies freedom and peace.”

We all owe a deep gratitude for Sid’s life. We owe an equal depth of gratitude to his wife, Joy, and his children who shared so much of his time as he toiled in search of a better world for them and us. Their sacrifice, on our behalf, has been great.

Sincerely,
Tom Webb

Editor’s note: We have maintained the Canadian practice of hyphenating "cooperative" in Tom Webb’s letter.

See other articles from this issue: #128 January - February - 2007