René Thonney was born on August 8, 1916 in Vaud. After finishing his business school, he would accept any job he came across. During these first years of work, he changed jobs fifteen times, but everyone appreciated his commitment for forty-two years to the work of Moral Rearmament as cashier in Caux.
In 1942, René got an extraordinary job as permanent postal tobacconist. But in 1946, when Caux opened up to become a center for international meetings of Moral Rearmament, René renounced, and go to work in Caux without pay. In 1983, he explained this decision as a plan of God for his life, a natural extension. He had three anchor points: a feeling of solidarity with the workers and the starving, a certainty that a spiritual journey naturally led to taking on responsibilities, he was a patriot and convinced that Switzerland was not created by chance. If God had wanted it to exist, it was because He had a mission for it. Caux appeared to him as the demonstration of what Switzerland could do for the world.
His commitment has never wavered. No more than his friendships, including that with Professor Henri Rieben, which dates back to the time when they were young parishioners and caddies at the Chalet-à-Gobet golf.
René was a person with total integrity, who had remained fully himself among the people he met and who came from all over the world.
He passed away peacefully at the age of eighty-four on November 29, 1999.