LETHBRIDGE, AB – Southern Alberta’s celebrated cattle and grain farmer, entrepreneur and generous philanthropist, Cor Van Raay, has died at the age of 85.
An obituary posted on the Martin Brothers Funeral Chapels website says he passed away peacefully on Thursday (July 29) with his family by his side.
Van Raay was born on May 30, 1936 in Holland, and grew up always knowing that he wanted to be a farmer. He attended agriculture school in Holland, but there wasn’t enough land to tend to in the way he dreamed of.
He came to Canada in 1959, and took an opportunity to farm beets in southern Alberta shortly after. Since then, Van Raay developed large cattle feedlots and used his marketing skills to expand his agriculture ventures. He believed that Canada and this region, in particular, contributed to his success, so he generously supported a number of local organizations over the years.
He met his wife, Christine, in Alberta. They married in April 1963 and raised six children together. Christine passed away in 2005, but Cor is survived by his kids, Kenneth, Brenda, Sandra, Colleen, Michelle and Darren, and his partner of the last 10 years, Julie Perverseff.
The YMCA of Lethbridge extended its condolences to the Van Raay family in a Facebook post Friday evening (July 30), saying Cor was an active member and significant donor for several years. He gave the organization its largest-ever donation in 2017 to help build the new Cor Van Raay YMCA in west Lethbridge.
“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,” Vivien Kossuth, chair of the YMCA Board of Directors, said in the Facebook post. “Cor always delighted staff with his infectious smile and warm nature. His passing weighs heavily on all of us in the YMCA community.”
A prayer service is scheduled for 7:00 p.m. on Wednesday (Aug. 4) at St. Martha’s Catholic Parish, and a funeral service will follow on Thursday (Aug. 5) at 11:00 a.m. also at St. Martha’s.
A livestream of the funeral will be available on the Martin Brothers Funeral Chapels website for those who wish to watch.