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Book details
  • Genre:HISTORY
  • SubGenre:United States / 20th Century
  • Language:English
  • Pages:132
  • Paperback ISBN:9781878050007

A Life in Cooperatives, 1938-1992

Robert K. (Bob) March, the Berkeley Co-op and the Cooperative Movement

by Robert K. March View publisher's profile page

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This much-awaited oral history opens a valuable window on the vision and principles of the co-op movement. Bob March's life was so intertwined with his contribution to Berkeley co-ops that the histories of the two are woven seamlessly together. This volume also documents the often-overlooked breadth of Berkeley's cooperative organizations and their legacy today.

Robert (Bob) March was the second full-time employee of the Berkeley Co-op grocery store after its founding in 1938. He chose to adopt the cooperative way of life as a lifelong career, having begun his journey with a master's thesis on the cooperative movement. His career took him through many aspects of the cooperative movement at the Consumers Cooperative of Berkeley (CCB) and beyond. He was interim manager during World War II; worked at Associated Cooperatives, the warehouse distributor for the CCB; was Vice President or President of the Berkeley Co-op Board of Directors from 1948 to 1952; and was on the Board of Directors of Books Unlimited (a book collective). He was Co-op Center Federal Credit Union branch manager for 14 years. His oral history interview was recorded in 1987, the year when the Berkeley Co-op celebrated its 50th anniversary and expanded its oral history recordings. Unfortunately, in 1987 the Berkeley Co-op was already experiencing difficulties leading to its eventual demise. The interview transcript and numerous supplementary materials provide a multifaceted view of one man's life as well as the rise and fall of what was once the largest consumer co-op in the United States.

The book is heavily illustrated with more than 70 images including family photos, photos from the co-op workplaces, and documents including newsletter articles, correspondence, brochures and more. There is even an account of Bob March's experience of the 1965 civil rights march from Selma to Montgomery.

About the author

Robert K. (Bob) March (1913–2010) was a social activist whose entire career was devoted to the consumer cooperative movement. Raised by missionary parents in China, he attended Wooster College in Ohio, then earned his Master's in Social Service in Berkeley, California. He worked in Pacific Co-op Services, Consumers Cooperative of Berkeley, Associated Cooperatives, the Hibbing, Minnesota Central Cooperative Warehouse, Santa Monica Co-op, Methodist Conference Credit Union, and, back in Berkeley, Consumers Cooperative Federal Credit Union, and on the volunteer board of Books Unlimited Cooperative.

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