The Rev. Don CousensFormer Markham mayor and member of York Region council Don Cousens died Feb. 23 at Markham Stouffville Hospital.

Cousens served as Markham mayor from 1994 to 2006.

“Don will be remembered for his commitment to public service and genuine ability to lead change,” said York Region chair and CEO Wayne Emmerson. “As one of the founding members of the Character Community Foundation, his dedication and belief that good character makes a positive difference in building strong communities will live on.”

Cousens was 78.

“Don Cousens was a real force at the York Region District School Board, the Province of Ontario and here in Markham,” said current Markham Mayor Frank Scarpitti.

An ordained Presbyterian minister, and an officer of the Canadian Forces, Cousens was also an executive at Honeywell Ltd., before entering politics in 1972.

Cousens was first elected to the Ontario Legislature in 1981. He was re-elected in 1985. His provincial career included postings as minister of Correctional Services, parliamentary assistant to the minister of Citizenship and Culture and deputy Speaker of the House.

As a member of York Region council, Cousens was chair of finance (1997 to 2002) and founding chair of the York Region Character Council. He was also past chair of World Vision Canada. Don was involved in the founding of the York Technology Network, now known as TechConnex.

Cousens also served as chair of the Legislation and Intergovernmental Affairs Committee.

He also served as vice-chair of the Water Long Term Supply Committee and was a member of the Official Plan Steering Committee, the

Yonge Subway Task Force, the Rapid Transit Corporation Board of Directors and the Association of Municipalities Ontario board.

York Region’s flags have been lowered to half-mast in honour of Cousens. Funeral arrangements are not yet available.

A book of condolences has been set up in his honour in the Great Hall of the Markham Civic Centre.

See original obituary from Yorkregion.com

More information regarding funeral arrangements to follow as they become available.