Three Central Alberta charities each received donations of over $185,000 that were bequests from a Red Deer resident who died last November.
Vladimer Novak, 87, known to his friends as Laddie, donated the money to the Red Deer and District SPCA, the Red Deer Regional Health Foundation and Sunnybrook Farm Museum.
The charities honoured the late donor on Thursday afternoon at a gathering with Novak’s friends at the museum.
Novak was originally from Dodsland, Sask., where his Czech-born parents farmed.
When he retired from farming, he moved to Red Deer in 2002 to be near friends in the area.
His last year and a half was spent in the Red Deer Regional Hospital Centre and local care facilities.
Before he took ill, one of his favourite activities was collecting model farm equipment.
Ian Warwick, executive director at Sunnybrook Farm Museum, said Novak attended the museum’s Pioneer Day events and donated antique tractor models to the museum worth about $10,000, including an electric-powered combine and steam engine.
“All the (steam engine) parts run and you hook it up to a model threshing machine and then the threshing machine runs. It’s just a really unique artifact,” Warwick said.
He said Novak’s donation is about three times larger than any estate money the museum has ever received.
“It’s a significant gift for our organization for sure.”
He said bequests are fairly new to the museum.
“We’ve had a few in the past. I think they’re increasing so people are recognizing that the museum has a place in Red Deer and is making a significant impact.”
The museum has not yet determined how Novak’s money will be put to use. It’s possible the money will go towards its restoration of Calder Community School, Warwick said.
Erin Cupples, fund development officer with the health foundation, said the foundation staff didn’t have the honour of meeting Novak and greatly appreciate his gift that will impact the community.
“It’s such a huge donation. It doesn’t happen too often. We plan just to grow it and then it will be going to the greatest need of the Red Deer Regional Hospital Centre,” Cupples said.
Tara Hellewell, SPCA executive director, said the Kovak was not known to the SPCA either, but that is common with bequests to organizations that helps animals.
Bequests are a popular way for people to donate to the SPCA. They sometimes come from people who love animals and don’t have children, like Kovak, she said.
“I wish we would have had the chance to know him,” Hellewell said.
Kovak’s donation will go towards the SPCA’s annual $1.1-million operational budget.
“To raise $100,000 is a lot of work for our organization. To have this gifted to us with no special designation, that’s very exciting for us. We can use it as we need to.”
She said it’s been a good year for the SPCA with a 30 per cent increase in fundraising thanks in large part to having a staff member dedicated to fund development.
“It’s been an amazing year of donations. It’s given us stability,” Hellewell said.
Novak also donated $185,000 to Kindersley and District Plains Museum in Saskatchewan.