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University of Calgary celebrates life of philanthropist Joan Snyder

Friday, a celebration of life was held at the U of C foothills campus for Joan Snyder, who passed away in the spring at the age of 90. Friday, a celebration of life was held at the U of C foothills campus for Joan Snyder, who passed away in the spring at the age of 90.

One of Calgary's most generous philanthropists has bequeathed a massive donation to the University of Calgary.

Friday, a celebration of life was held at the U of C foothills campus for Joan Snyder, who passed away in the spring at the age of 90.

Some of her memorabilia was on display Friday, as donations to various institutes totaling $100 million were announced.

The University of Calgary is receiving $67.5 million of that.

Despite the staggering sum, Snyder was a down-to-earth woman, said attorney Don Hatch.

"She was a humble lady, never put on airs, she was just who she was – Joan Snyder," Hatch said.

"She was just a lovely, lovely, warm, generous lady."

For Dr. Derek McKay, the director of the Snyder Institute of Chronic Diseases, the donation was profound.

"This gift – it really is a level-up moment," McKay said."It's a game changer for us.

"This is going to sustain the Snyder Institute for years to come."

PASSION FOR HEALTHY LIVING

Snyder was equally passionate about healthy living through movement and sport, which led to her donating to the Joan Snyder Fund for Excellence in Kinesiology, which received $30 million to further accelerate research, grow the varsity athletics program and strengthen community and industry partnerships to encourage people to live healthier, more active lives.

The gift is intended to focus on women and girls in particular, to help correct a longstanding imbalance in research.

"The faculty wouldn’t be where it is without Joan’s support, and this new gift will take sport-science and varsity athletics at UCalgary to new heights," said Dr. Penny Werthner, PhD, provost (interim) and former dean of the Faculty of Kinesiology. "Her love of community and advocacy for sport and healthy living has changed lives, here and around the world, and will continue to do so well into the future."

Known as "the grandmother of Canadian women's hockey," Snyder also gifted $2 million to expand the Joan Snyder Program of Excellence in Women's Hockey at U of C, a one-of-a-kind program created by the school in 2011.

Known as "the grandmother of Canadian women's hockey," Snyder also gifted $2 million to expand the Joan Snyder Program of Excellence in Women's Hockey at U of C, a one-of-a-kind program created by the school in 2011.

To house a considerable amount of her memorabilia, Snyder gifted $500,000 to the university's libraries and cultural resources to support the preservation of art and collections.

Friday's event also included representatives from other institutions that Snyder gifted an additional $100 million to, including Mount Royal University, the Calgary Foundation, the University of Saskatchewan, Calgary Zoo, PALS, Calgary Humane Society, Wood's Home Foundation, Heritage Park Foundation, the Calgary Stampede Foundation, the Salvation Army, and NWT-Agape Hospice.

Snyder was remembered by her friend and advisor Don Brownie for her warm presence.

For someone who made such an incredible difference to so many people, Joan never put on airs. She was pretty straight-forward, but she had a wonderful sense of humour and was just fun to be around.”

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