Our dear founder, Father Stanley William Hosie, passed away on June 23 at age 91 at his home in California. He closed his life still deeply connected to the mission and good work of the organization he co-founded.
First as its CEO and later as its Board Chair, he led Counterpart International for 42 of its 48 years. [Watch a video tribute to Father Stan Hosie]
“We are taking the opportunity to appreciate the man who imagined the good that Counterpart could do in the world,” says Counterpart’s President and CEO Joan Parker.
“He has inspired us. And his spirit will continue to do so.”
Father Stan, as he was affectionately known, was a Marist priest running a school in Australia when he was asked to write a book about the order’s work in the South Pacific and embarked on a three-month tour.
He was appalled by what he saw on the islands, and shocked that people were worse off than they had been before World War II. He described it as “poverty in paradise.”
“There were almost no clinics or hospitals, and of course higher education—forget it,” Father Stan remembered in a 2010 interview. “One in a thousand people in Papua New Guinea at that stage was going to school. One in a thousand.”
Betty Silverstein, a close friend and actress, described Father Stan as “imbibed with the problems of the South Pacific” when he returned from his travels and showed her and her husband Maurice slides of compassionate nuns nursing lepers.
Together, Father Stan and Silverstein created the Foundation for the Peoples of the South Pacific in 1965—the private volunteer organization that would eventually become Counterpart International.
The humility imparted to Father Stan through his Marist training was a virtue he unwittingly imparted to Counterpart, which from its earliest days worked in partnership with local leaders and communities without seeking recognition for itself.
“In the twenty-first century, international development agencies uniformly agree that the aim of overseas development programs is ‘helping people help themselves,’” Father Stan wrote in his 2010 memoir “The House that Betty Built” (Ruder Finn Press). “In its time, this was a revolutionary idea.”
“We don’t go into problem nations to solve the problems. We go into developing nations to help the local people solve their own problems,” he said.
Counterpart originally received a portion of its funding through the sale of used clothing—including the dresses of movie stars—sold from a small shop under Carnegie Hall in New York City.
As the organization grew, the thrift shop’s funding was gradually replaced by donor contributions.
Today, Counterpart has $60 million in annual program revenue and serves communities in 23 countries including Afghanistan, Guatemala, Senegal and Ethiopia.
Considered “on loan” from the Marists, Father Stan was never paid for his full-time work as Counterpart’s Executive Director.
“His motivation was pure,” says Jeffrey LaRiche, Chairman of Counterpart’s Board of Directors. “To do good, to assist those less fortunate, to help others sustain themselves.”