Frederick J. Thompson, FCIA (1969), FSA (1969)

heads or tails

Saddened to hear that we have lost one of Canada’s most passionate actuaries, Fred Thompson, age 75, I wanted to add my story to the collection being shared.

I joined Mercer in 1987 and Fred joined shortly after me.  Both of us were known to say what we thought and didn’t always consider the feelings of others as we expressed our views.  I was a young actuarial student in those days and although Fred was an experienced actuary he was certainly young-at-heart and always ready to have fun.

I have so many good memories of my time with Fred.  Attending Fred’s 50th birthday party was an honour for someone just starting into the profession.  We had a number of discussions on the phone about running for election as CIA President – we both tried and were not chosen.  My most two recent encounters with Fred were Malcolm’s retirement party and the Independent Actuaries Meeting in January.  At all times Fred was full of energy and always made me laugh and at the same time he always made me think.

Going back, my first meeting with Fred was the very late 80s or early 90s.  We received news that one of the senior actuarial students at Mercer had passed his final exam and would be an FSA and FCIA.  Back in those days you were notified by a fax from our Chicago office where you looked up your candidate number on a list published by the Society of Actuaries.  Customary to the day, there was an ‘exam party’ organized and paid for by actuarial students as well as actuaries.  Fred never failed to identify a cause for celebration – rather than waiting for a formal party, he marched a group of us out of the office that very afternoon to the flatiron building at Church and Wellington.  We sat on the patio on a warm afternoon and celebrated not just the success of that newly minted actuary but the success ahead for all of us that had the privilege of being part of the actuarial profession.

Fred loved the actuarial profession and wasn’t always kind towards those that he felt weren’t managing it well on our behalf.  For those that enjoyed spending time with Fred we knew his heart was in the right place and some of us over the years tried to help him polish the rough edges of his commentary – but in the end, he was passionate beyond belief which is what so many of us admired about him.

Fred’s legacy to our profession in Canada lives on in the many of us he inspired to make our profession great.  To the end he was contributing to make us all better.  He will be missed – he will be remembered.

Joe Nunes, FSA (1997), FCIA (1997)



Joe Nunes
Joe Nunes
Joseph Nunes, Co-founder and Executive Chairman of Actuarial Solutions Inc., has practiced in the area of pensions and retiree health plans for over 30 years. He has experience with many types of plans including single-employer, multi-employer, private sector, government, unionized, non-unionized, as well as registered and non-registered executive plans.


  1. Avatar William McDonnell says:

    Well written Joe. I too encountered Fred in 1983 when I played for the “AIB” hockey team (Actuaries and Insurance Brokers), organized, coached, managed and operated by Fred. He had his own firm back then and was quick to rib the young actuarial students at Mercer, Hewitt, Towers Perrin etc. so we took great delight when he joined his old pal Dan McCaw at Mercer. Certainly a legend but as you aptly put it, his heart was in the right place. Continued success. Bill

  2. Avatar John philip Learney says:

    I was Fred’s roommate at U of T in the late 1950s.
    A no bullshit guy even then!
    We met only four times in the many years since our time at the D T D house on St George Street. Once was at his wedding and then again in Kingston and in Boston. And once at the airport.
    So sorry to hear of his passing. Condolences to his family.

  3. Avatar Jared McClelland says:

    Saddened to just learn of Fred’s passing. I first encountered him at a Younger Actuaries meeting in Toronto in the early 70’s when he delivered a well deserved retort to someone who had spoken out of turn. I thought “I must get to know that person.” And so I did. Over the next dozen years or so we encountered each other numerous times, often at SOA meetings, and it was always a pleasure – and often an adventure – being in his (and Marilyn’s) company.
    Fred and I spent a magical evening about 25 years ago at The Adventurers Club on Pleasure Island at Disney World. Fred seemed to be very at home there, and I had an inkling that he was likely some famous adventurer in a previous incarnation. Even then, he seemed as much an adventurer as he was an actuary – if not more so. Those who knew him well might concur.
    Although I hadn’t seen him in many years, he was never forgotten. He was one of a kind. I am very grateful to have known him. My sincere condolences to all of his family. ‘Kungaloosh’ Fred.

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