Remembering Fred Thorne

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Fred Thorne, a longtime Pioneer Board Director and major contributor to the Institute, died this weekend.  Fred was someone that Pioneer’s founder, Pete Peters, thought the world of — and for good reason. He was a man of deep intelligence, thoughtful judgment, class, and kindness.

Roger Perry and I had a chance to sit with Fred two weeks ago; we spent part of a beautiful summer morning sitting on his porch overlooking the port in Manchester-by-the-Sea.  At the time, Fred’s liver was no longer functional, but his spirit was far from broken.  He was still holding weekly investor meetings, and had committed to two appointments after our morning visit.

Fred was a founding force at Pioneer, and always cognizant of the special cause to which Pete had called his friends and acquaintances.  His engagement with Pioneer was always quietly expressed behind the scenes.  Fred was the master of the five-minute call that communicated a single point.  Most of his points were things he liked and wanted to see more of.

Fred was born in London, England, on July 18, 1935, the son of a World War II serviceman who perished after the 1942 Battle of Singapore.  After graduating from Bowdoin College, Fred launched his career in investment banking, beginning at State Street. He became CEO of several firms, including the Phoenix Investment Counsel of Boston, Inc., Fortis Investment Management, John P. Chase, Inc., and Virtus Investment Advisors, before founding Harbor Capital Management Company, Inc. in 1979, and then becoming an independent consultant.

Fred served on numerous committees and boards both in the investment industry and the non-profit sector, including Access Worldwide Communications, Massachusetts Eye and Ear Associates, the Beverly Hospital, the Shore Country Day School, the World Peace Foundation, Bowdoin College (which awarded him an honorary doctorate in 2005), and Pioneer.

Fred vowed to beat the projections of his doctors who told him he could not expect to live more than 14 months.  The man had a great will to live, but as we all must recognize, the body does what the body does.

Life is certainly too brief, but Roger Perry, as he often does, recalled me to what was most important.  Last night, he underscored not only the qualities that we all loved about Fred, but also that Roger and I have a special memory of Fred that cannot be taken away.  The memory of that last time we were able to sit with Fred, squinting in the sun, smiling, talking about life and what we do to ensure that we leave our world a better place cannot be taken away and will continue to guide us.

Memorial service information
Date and time: Friday, August 26, 2016, at 11 a.m.
Location: St. John’s Episcopal Church, 705 Hale St., Beverly Farms, MA 01915
Please note: In lieu of flowers, memorial gifts may be made to Beverly Hospital, 85 Herrick St., Beverly, MA 01915
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