Calgary businessman and Spruce Meadows founder, Ron Southern, will be celebrated and remembered at a funeral service at the world-renowned equestrian event centre on Thursday.

Southern passed away on January 21st at the age of 85 and will be remembered by many as a visionary, entrepreneur and business and community leader.

“Everybody’s feeling a tremendous sense of loss. Mr. Southern was very much a realist too. As he would say ‘his shadow was growing longer’. It’s a sad time but it’s also a time when you appreciate the strength of family and friendship and community,” said Spruce Meadows Senior Vice-President, Ian Allison.

Southern was born in Calgary on July 25, 1930 and attended Crescent Heights High School and the University of Alberta.

He founded Alberta Trailer Co with his father in 1947, which later grew into the ATCO Group.

Together with his wife Margaret, he opened Spruce Meadows in 1975 and over the years the facility has hosted over 60 nations,  hundreds of riders and thousands of fans.

Ron Southern was inducted into the Alberta Sports Hall of Fame in 1992 and the Canadian Sports Hall of Fame in 2006. He also received the Companion of the Order of Canada in 2007, Alberta Order of Excellence and the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal in 2012, along with numerous other awards.

A funeral will be held for Ron Southern at 11:00 a.m. on Thursday, January 28 at Spruce Meadows at 18011 Spruce Meadows Way S.W.

People can also pay their respects on Wednesday from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. at McInnis & Holloway at 5008 Elbow Drive S.W.