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28 April 2008 - In Memory of Douglas MacGregor Thomson

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In Memory of Douglas MacGregor Thomson Milano - 28 April 2008 Douglas Thomson (right) with Geoff Shepherd,    Treasurer of 1971 York World Championships    Tribute to FITA Honorary Vice President, who died on 20 April 2008 aged 88 year-old, by Francesco Gnecchi-Ruscone.   The first time I met Douglas Thomson I was the newly elected President of the Italian Archery Federation, then a very young, informal, home-spun organisation, naturally quite low in the ranking of important Member Associations.   It happened at the twenty-fifth Congress of FITA at Valley Forge, Pennsylvania, in 1969, my first Congress. I was –as many were– awed by the regal formality of the President, Mrs Inger Frith, and by what seemed to me the mysterious intricacies of Congress procedure. Yet I wanted to be an active participant in it, so at the end of the first session I went to see the Secretary General, Douglas Thomson.   I was immediately impressed by his kindness and patience, by his giving me a long time after a long, hard day but above all I was conquered by his competence. I had gone to him ready to complain about the rigid discipline in the agenda, the difficult task of guessing when it was right to speak, the ever looming risk of being condemned “out of order” by the President.   I received from him the most convincing lesson on Congress management, on the need for clarity and efficiency in the process of making decisions based on knowledge of facts and situations as well as on clearly stated choices and on how to do it. All this with great friendliness and humour!   I became there and then his fervent disciple and, if later, in my terms as President, I managed to run my Congresses and the administration of FITA without causing undue trouble, I largely owe it to his teaching. When I was elected I had hoped to confirm him as Secretary General at least for the initial period of transition but in those days the seats of FITA were the homes and telephones of President and Secretary. Very reasonably he pointed out that the geographic distance between us was too great for an efficient co-operation.   It is today a sad circumstance that brings back these memories but I am glad that it gives me a chance to state what a debt FITA, not just me, owes to Douglas Thomson.   His personality, of which self-effacing was part, may have been sometimes overshadowed by the resplendent presence of Mrs Frith but I can certainly say that many of FITA’s successes in the period of her tenure would have been more difficult to achieve had she not had the constant, capable, loyal help and –I am sure– counsel of Douglas Thomson.   FITA must remember him with admiration and gratitude.   Francesco Gnecchi-Ruscone FITA Honorary President