Businessman and volunteer named 2019 Citizen of the Year

John Donald’s parents and sister were each honoured previously

Another member of the Donald family has left their philanthropic mark on Red Deer.

Local businessman John Donald was announced on Friday night as Red Deer’s 2019 Citizen of the Year, the fourth family member to receive the honour.

His father, Jack Donald, was honoured in 2002, and his mother Joan was named Citizen of the Year two years later. John Donald’s sister, Kathy Lacey, received the award in 2011.

John Donald said he was “extremely humbled” by the honour and credited the many people he worked with over the years.

“I think if you surround yourself with enough great people, you end up looking pretty good yourself.

“I think that’s been my success, for sure,” he said ahead of the official award ceremony.

His parents’ long history of involvement in charitable causes and campaigns rubbed off on their children.

Donald said he has never met a better businessman than his father, who started the company that became fuel marketer and distributor Parkland Industries with a single Red Deer gas station in 1957.

RELATED: School leader named Red Deer Young Citizen of the Year

“But my mother is the philanthropic one. I think from a very young age we learned to give back.

“If you do business in a community, if you’re part of a community, you give back to the community,” he said. “That message was loud and clear and something we’ve done our whole life.”

Donald said picking an achievement that gives him the most satisfaction after decades of charitable work is difficult.

However, for the past 10 years, he has dedicated his efforts to health care, including five years as chair of the Red Deer Regional Health Foundation.

“I think that in health care in central Alberta, we’ve been shorted as residents. I think it’s something that needs to get fixed.

“So, you get busy and you try to fix it. That’s what we’re doing right now.”

Donald owned Red Deer’s John Deere dealership for 37 years, also overseeing locations in Lethbridge, Taber, Medicine Hat and Burdett. He sold that business last December and now looks after 42 commercial properties he owns with his father.

John is also married to a Joan and the couple have a grown son and daughter.

The Rotary Clubs of Red Deer’s Ray Rogers said that Donald was the unanimous choice of the Citizen of the Year selection committee. He was recognized for a lifetime of philanthropy, including many contributions that don’t get a lot of notice.

Many community organizations would struggle without people like Donald helping them, he said.

Olympic hockey gold medallist Sami Jo Small gave the keynote address during the award ceremony.

Small said she enjoys visiting communities and hearing their local success stories.

“The amount of people who are putting in such great work in this community in Red Deer is just amazing,” said Small, who was a goalie for two gold medal-winning Olympic and five world championship teams.

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