The OFE Community Mourns the Loss of Co-Founder Basil Cousins

08 March 2023

Author: Astor Nummelin Carlberg

By Tiana Lea for the OpenUK State of Open Photo Exhibition sponsored by Arm

It is with great sadness that we announce the passing away of OpenForum Europe co-founder, Basil Cousins, after a very long illness. He died peacefully at home with all his family present. His wife Trisha died early last year, but he was very close to his large family.

The funeral will be held on Wednesday 26th April at 1.30pm at the Sacred Heart Church in Wimbledon SW19 4LU in the UK. All are welcome but the family just need to know rough numbers for catering afterwards, so if you are able to attend please let Graham Taylor ( know so he can advise the family.

OFE is currently gathering the large number of personal tributes received for publication. If you would like to add your own short tribute please email Jaakko Karhu at OFE ( together with the name and any job title you wish it to be shown under.

Basil not only lived a long life, but a very fulfilled one also. Basil worked in technology since the early 80s, observing the modularity of software development. This early effort in common application development laid the foundation for his devotion to open source. Later, he joined forces with other open source enthusiasts to promote open standards. This collaboration with Bob Blatchford and Graham Taylor later led to the creation of OpenForum Europe.

Basil’s endless curiosity was not limited only to technology but extended to religion and spirituality. He held a Master’s Degree in Philosophy in Russian Orthodoxy and Islam.

In 2021, Basil was recognised with a Lifetime Achievement Award by OpenUK. His passion for technology and open source stayed strong to the last days of his life. “I am a strong believer in open source. I think the universe itself is open source. The whole universe is like software”, Basil said at the State of Open 2023 conference a month ago.

Basil was an exceptional figure in our field and his impact is immeasurable. Quite simply he was an inspiration to us all. We are deeply grateful for Basil being so instrumental in building the organisation that we today work for.

“Basil was probably the most positive person I have ever worked with – always full of new ideas. Liked and respected by everyone he was the world’s best networker. I first met him in the early 1980’s when I was at ICL (now Fujitsu) and he was a senior customer. Even then he was a strong advocate for interoperability and went on to lead much of X/Open’s work in this area. Later we worked together, both in ICL and later on Unix International in the UK, but it was only in 2001/02 when, realising we both were looking at the business opportunity from Open Source, we combined efforts. The result was our co-founding of what became OpenForum Europe – the rest is history. I have lost a great friend”

  • Graham Taylor, Chairman Emeritus and Co-Founder of OFE

“Our professional careers are marked not by the organisations we work for so much as the people we collaborate with. Today I learned that one of the formative people in the development of my engagement with technology, policy, and law has died. Basil Cousins was an exceptional influence for myself and many others, combining a childlike curiosity with a generosity of spirit. Instead of electing to be cautious or miserly, he chose to seek out and elevate new generations. A warm contributor who never sought the limelight, he will nevertheless be remembered fondly and with gratitude by many hundreds.”

  • Shane Coughlan, General Manager, OpenChain, The Linux Foundation, Non-Executive Director, OFE

“Basil’s ideas not only laid the foundation for OpenForum Europe but they still drives our mission and vision. In addition to his engagement and influence in the debates around the state and future of technology and society, he had a tremendous impact on countless individuals that in turn have dedicated their lives to the betterment of society. OFE and its community would not be here today without Basil.”

  • Astor Nummelin Carlberg, Executive Director, OFE

“Spiritually Basils’ sunny attitude to life lit up the lives of all those in his community. Industrially he successfully challenged the current day concepts of information technology.

I met Basil 40 years ago while working at ICL Computers. It was at ICL he fostered a strategy of Open Systems at a time when the computer industry was a mainframe industry founded on individual manufacturer closed technologies locking customers exclusively into one supplier of information management. Basil’s Open Systems passion created a scalable interoperable technical strategy favouring customers by unlocking a choice of suppliers.

Basils’ innovative “Out of the Box” thinking was a characteristic of his problem solving skills. He became the Pied Piper for Open Systems in Europe. Over 40 years he successfully created and fostered many organisations to sustain the worldwide growth of Open Systems, to name three organisations, x/Open, Unix International and Open Forum Europe.

Basil was challenging as all creative thinkers are but a joy to be with forever looking for the solution to eliminate the problem.

Sadly missed, never forgotten, thank you Basil for your talent, drive and friendship”

  • Geoff Morris, formerly, President & CEO of x/Open Ltd and proud friend of Basil

“We will all keep Basil in our memory as the great and remarkable person he was. I feel honoured having worked with him and grateful for the moments of collaboration. We will miss
his warmth, his intellect, his personality, and his friendship.”

  • Jochen Friedrich, Technical Relations Executive, IBM.

“Basil was indeed an amazing person with a great intellect, so many ideas and so much drive! Always engaged and so nice and such an inspiration to all of us! While most other people over 70 somehow unplug from the busy business life, he continued with full speed and engagement!”

  • Charlotte Thornby Nielsen, VP Global Cloud Policy and Government Relations, Oracle

“He was a truly exceptional man and someone who mattered more to me and my involvement for digital freedom that a lot of people realize.”

  • Charles Schultz

“One of life’s gentlemen”

  • Harry Grey, ex Olivetti

“He was without doubt one of the nicest and kindest people I have ever met.”

  • Phil Scott- Lewis, Former Head of UK Public Sector Sales, Red Hat

“This is a sad moment for us all. Basil was a significant influence in my personal and professional life and he has often been in my thoughts”

  • Stuart J MacKintosh, CEO/Founder OPUS VL

“Very grateful for the opportunity to work with Basil on open source projects in 2011/12.
A powerful thinker and networker, Basil’s transparent and inclusive approach to work made you immediately warm to him.

  • Malcolm Newbury, Consulting Director of Guildfoss Limited
“The Open Source Initiative sends its condolences to the family of Basil Cousins. He made a great impact on the technology industry by his quiet and effective advocacy of openness and the inspiration of his approach will live on for many years.”
  • Open Source Initiative
“I have many fond memories of Basil, his kindness and his smile. He was always a source of encouragement to me and I truly value his example as a leader. He will be missed, and I send my sympathies to his family”
  • Simon Phipps, OpenForum Academy Fellow