Don Penny, active community member, co-founder of the company formerly known as Meyers Norris Penny, and a recipient of the Order of Canada, has died following a short illness. He was 80 years old.
Family spokesperson and granddaughter Olivia Auriat confirmed that Penny passed away on Thursday morning.
"He was always ‘the most.’ He was fearless. He was probably the only grandfather I’ve ever heard of who encouraged his two granddaughters to go backpacking alone. He loved life and he loved adventure and he taught us to do the same," Auriat said.
Sitting at boardroom tables across the country, Don Penny and his partners at the accounting firm he helped launch in Brandon, convinced other firms to buy into their business vision.
Two years ago, when Penny received the Assiniboine Community College’s inaugural Courage Award, he told the Sun that his greatest career accomplishment was earning the support of these other firms.
"I don’t think it was any individual expansion, whether a purchase or a merger; the biggest success was to have people trust me and agree to join in the plans, the vision," Penny told the Sun in 2017.
"They were the ones who had courage. They’re giving up their own names on the scoreboard typically, and they’re meeting a bunch of people that they kind of like from a social point of view but have never been in business with."
Penny had a decorated role in turning a Brandon-based accounting firm, now known as MNP LLP, into a regional giant with dozens of offices across Canada. MNP has been recognized as one of Canada’s 50 Best Employers.
Starting in Brandon in 1958, they grew to nearly 20 branches on the Prairies by the mid-1990s and now dot the national landscape from British Columbia to Nova Scotia with more than 4,500 employees.
Penny enjoyed being an accountant, "but I also knew that I didn’t want to be serving clients my whole life … I also wanted to grow our business and find out where we could be."
Penny was able to merge his businessman aspirations with the Chartered Accountant designation he received in 1963. He stepped down as CEO in 1998, when MNP was the 10th-largest accounting firm in Canada, with fees of $41 million and more than 400 people as staff. Penny remained chairman of the board for three more years.
Through his decades in Brandon, Penny, who eventually moved to Clear Lake, was part of numerous community endeavours, including the Brandon Economic Development Board, Brandon Chamber of Commerce, YMCA and the SW Manitoba Kinsmen Club, among others.
He also played a leading role in the early years of the Brandon University Foundation, and served as chairman for the Canadian Institute of Chartered Accountants Board of Governors and Institute of Chartered Accountants of Manitoba.
He was invested into the Order of Canada in 2006.
See Friday's newspaper for more.