Art Danforth died May 10, 1987, at the age of 74, after five decades of consumer cooperative activism and public service. He will be remembered, and missed, by many cooperators throughout North America. A co-op attorney, accountant, and prolific writer, Art had a hand in creating much of the existing literature and law for consumer cooperatives.
Art obtained a law degree from Cornell in 1938, and organized the first student dining co-op at that school. He was at one time manager of a co-op store in Weymouth, Massachusetts; later years included leadership in cooperative affairs in the Berkeley and Greenbelt/District of Columbia areas. From 1968-1977 he was Secretary-Treasurer of the Cooperative League of the USA (now the National Cooperative Business Association). He played a leading role in early efforts to draft legislation for a national consumer cooperative bank and in efforts to win support for such a bank. He also drafted or helped draft co-op statutes in several states.
Art never lost his passion for social justice, never lost the vision of cooperation as a means to a peaceful world. In the 1930s, he was inspired by the Japanese teacher Kagawa and his "brotherhood economics." During the Second World War, Art was a conscientious objector (CO) and spent time at a camp for COs. Often despite a hostile political climate and even fellow cooperators who were unsympathetic to his political views, he spoke out for peace and co-ops' social responsibilities throughout his career. In one of his last written pieces, printed in the previous issue of this publication, he reminded readers of the coming crisis in the economy and the need for stronger cooperation among cooperatives. His final book was aimed at helping the families of those suffering from Alzheimer's disease, as his late wife had.
Faithful to that broad vision of cooperation, Art was one of his generation of cooperators to be most sympathetic to the new wave of co-ops in the 1960s and 1970s, and most active in conferences and consulting with these co-ops. His good advice, funny songs, and principled objections were a common feature of regional and national consumer co-op conferences. Art is survived by his wife Mae Gellman and by all of us who carry on the tradition and the movement. As the old saying has it, he is gone but not forgotten.
Commemorations, inquiries about his many available publications, and contributions may be mailed to:
Art Danforth Educational Fund Box 2608 Falls Church, VA 22042.