By Steve Hubrecht
A local rancher, Albert Cooper, who died in 2012, has left more than $650,000 of his estate as a legacy fund donated to the Columbia Valley Food Bank.
We are honoured and pleased to say the least. We consider it to be a great responsibility and a great opportunity to better things in the valley, said food bank chair Ron Stainthorpe. Were going to do some strategic planning to take a hard look at what we can do with the money. In the meantime, we want to keep the legacy intact and, so initially well use the interest to help run some of our programs.
Mr. Stainthorpe described Mr. Cooper as an individual dedicated to the people of the valley and someone who helped a number of worthy local causes.
I guess he (Mr. Cooper) thought that (the food bank) was one area he could really do some good, said Mr. Stainthorpe, speaking as to why Mr. Cooper chose to donate specifically to the valleys food assistance non-profit organization.
Mr. Cooper, born in 1924, was a resident of the Columbia Valley since 1937 and worked as a guide outfitter beginning when he was 16 years old and continuing into his late 70s. He lived on his ranch on the Toby Benches until the final few days of his life.
According to his friends and family, Mr. Cooper had a unique and endearing personality, an incredible way with horses, and fantastic knowledge of wildlife.
In 2000, a large bronze statue of a bighorn sheep in Radium Hot Springs, named Heading for Radium, was unveiled and dedicated in his honour, a gesture that deeply moved a man who everybody recalled as being extremely modest.
While the food bank goes through a planning process to determine what to do with the legacy fund, the interest it generates will be used to fund healthy food programs for students who come to school without having had breakfast and with no lunch; the Early Childhood Development Teams healthy eating program targeting valley kids ranging in age from infants to six year olds; the cooking program at J. A. Laird Elementary School; and food and supplies purchases for the Womens Resource Centres Safe Home program.
Some of the money will also be used for the food banks ongoing program of annually providing about 800 hampers to 1,350 adults and 550 children from Canal Flats to Spillimacheen. The Columbia Valley Food Bank spends $3,200 a month on its food hamper program and relies completely on charitable donations for funding for all its programs.