Picture Butte (Rural Roots Canada) – His name is synonymous with cattle, agriculture, community, and philanthropy.

Cor Van Raay, a pioneer in developing the fed-cattle industry in Alberta, passed away at the age of 85 on Thursday.

The southern Alberta feedlot owner was a huge philanthropist.

He gave generously to the agriculture industry and local community.

One donation was $5-million to Lethbridge College and the University of Lethbridge to support agricultural programming and research at both post-secondary institutions.

Lethbridge College President and CEO Dr. Paula Burns says he was down to earth and cared about the students at the college.

“What they were learning and just how they were able to progress and be part of the new agriculture,” Burns said.

Burns says his donation was huge in terms of agricultural programming, the applied research, the agribusiness work and really leveraged a lot of other dollars.

“One of his goals was to make sure that the provincial government also contributed to the growth in agriculture as did others and his gift was instrumental in a number of ways.”

The donation created agribusiness programming, bursaries and scholarships for students, and really helped with developing the AgENT program, which is the entrepreneurial arm of the college for students to come and learn about entrepreneurship.

Burns added that Van Raay was an entrepreneur before we even knew what that meant.

She recounts a time when they did a tour of his feedlot with students to learn about how the operation works.

“The amount of information that he shared just out of his head of the things that he had done was just incredible to me.”

According to the Van Raay – Paskell Farms website, Van Raay was huge on the international trade front, helping pave the way for one-on-one relationships with American packers.

He is a member of the Alberta Agriculture Hall of Fame and a Queens Diamond Jubilee Recipient.

Van Raay donated millions to the YMCA in Lethbridge, Inter-Faith Food Bank, amongst others.

For more on his legacy, click here.