Vancouver's business community is expressing its condolences following the passing of Wendy McDonald, longtime business luminary and 2006 Business in Vancouver Influential Women In Business lifetime achievement winner, who died December 30 at age 90.
McDonald took the reins at what was the 14-year-old B.C. Bearing Group after her first husband and company founder, Robert MacPherson, died in a plane crash in 1950.
McDonald retired as CEO in 2000 and then sold most of B.C. Bearing's corporate assets to Genuine Parts Co. for an undisclosed price in 2009, when the venture ranked as B.C.'s 63rd largest company with 300 employees and approximately $185 million in annual revenue.
McDonald is also remembered for being part of the original investor group that founded the Vancouver Whitecaps, being both the first elected female chair and the first female member of the Vancouver Board of Trade and for being inducted as a business laureate to the B.C. Hall of Fame.
"Wendy was never old," Darcy Rezac, longtime friend and former Vancouver Board of Trade managing director, told BIV January 7.
Rezac gave a speech and had the first dance with McDonald at her 90th birthday party in July.
"She participated in the entire celebration and danced with a bunch of folks."
Rezac also remembers going to several other McDonald birthday parties where each time there were up to 500 people.
"That was just Vancouver," he said. "She could have had the same parties in Phoenix or in Santiago, Chile, where she also had operations."
Premier Christy Clark called McDonald a "trailblazer" in a January 7 statement.
"She was an example of the power of philanthropy," Clark said. "Her many contributions and those of her family have made British Columbia a better place."
McDonald was married three times and had 10 children, 28 grandchildren and 36 great-grandchildren.