Lethbridge philanthropist Cor Van Raay dies at 85: ‘A kind, generous man’

Cor Van Raay was presented with an honorary degree from the University of Lethbridge on Oct. 17, 2015. Supplied by University of Lethbridge

Condolences are coming in after Lethbridge philanthropist Cor Van Raay died at 85 on Thursday.

Colleen Mackey, Van Raay’s daughter, said the family is grateful for the outpouring of support.

“Our dad was a kind, generous man, and we are going to miss his love, humour and guidance,” she said Saturday.

Cor Van Raay, pictured in 2017.
Cor Van Raay, pictured in 2017. Courtesy: Colleen Mackey

The YMCA of Lethbridge issued a statement Friday to express sadness about the death of the philanthropist for whom the Cor Van Raay YMCA is named.

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“Cor was an active participant in the YMCA community for many years as a member and as a significant donor,” the organization said. “In 2017, he made the largest-ever financial contribution to the YMCA of Lethbridge, resulting in the naming of our new, world-class facility as the Cor Van Raay YMCA.

“His generosity has left an incredible legacy and the opportunity for thousands of people in the Lethbridge community to access affordable wellness programs, services and facilities. As a member, Cor always delighted staff with his infectious smile and warm nature. His passing weighs heavily on all of us in the YMCA community.”

Lethbridge College also posted a statement online to offer its condolences to Van Raay’s loved ones.

“Cor was a business leader, a philanthropist, an advocate for education, a leader in agricultural innovation and most of all, a friend to countless people and organizations, and a beloved partner to Julie,” the post-secondary institution said.

READ MORE: Cor Van Raay YMCA at ATB Centre in Lethbridge opens its doors to the public 

“Cor was an incredible leader in agriculture, where he grew a small herd of 50 cattle into a wide range of agricultural endeavours that included Canada’s largest independently owned and operated feedlot, and many other enterprises.

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“His career in agriculture enabled him to follow his passion by providing opportunities to those in his community.”

READ MORE: Cor Van Raay awarded honorary degree for contributions to Alberta agriculture 

The college said Van Raay was a generous supporter of the institution and noted he took courses there as well.

“Cor’s generosity has made life better for so many in southern Alberta,” the college said.

The YMCA of Lethbridge said it extends its “deepest, heartfelt condolences to the Van Raay family and those who have also been touched by his spirit and kindness.”

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