This past summer has been a time of great loss for the Three Rivers community, including World Fare. Two active local visionaries passed away at relatively young ages, leaving the rest of us behind to continue the good work to which they were so dedicated.
Ellen Thompson served on the World Fare board of directors from 2009-2011, always bringing a sense of quiet hopefulness and wisdom to the board’s stewardship of the store’s mission. Along with others, she encouraged the board to consider not just what World Fare could offer in partnership with economically disadvantaged communities abroad, but how we could individually and collectively work for justice and reconciliation in our own community. She expressed her commitment especially through her involvement with ERAC/CE, an organization committed to helping people recognize and eliminate racism in themselves and in their communities. Ellen could often be spotted around town, even after she became ill, sporting her beautiful, multi-color fair trade sweater from World Fare and a lovely smile. The wide range of mourners at her memorial service attested to her compassion in the many roles she accepted — as leader, friend, sister, aunt, mentor. Ellen passed away on June 13, 2013.
Bruce Snook, who served on the World Fare board from 2008-2011, passed away more recently on August 29 after a brief illness. Going all the way back to 2003, Bruce was one of a handful of local leaders who encouraged the founding of World Fare in downtown Three Rivers. After he retired from his position as the director of the Three Rivers Area Chamber of Commerce, Bruce carried his vision for a flourishing community into a new venture, an online publication called River Country Journal. Influenced by movements that emphasize community strengths as a critical resource for positive change, Bruce was always quick to lift up the efforts of World Fare and other local organizations seeking to enhance life in the Three Rivers area through justice, creativity and compassionate commitment. Many remember his gentle smile and soothing radio voice, which were just the outward reflections of a truly humble, hopeful, wise spirit.
We will greatly miss Ellen and Bruce as we go forward, knowing that our best tribute to their work will be to continue and grow the community they imagined: one in which all people have a voice and share a sense of purpose and belonging.