News Archives: Creating a Lasting Legacy
Friday, April 17th, 2020
Gary Russell, 2020 Your Vision, Our Students Honoured Donor
The honoured donor of the 2020 Your Vision, Our Students event honours a beloved northern community member who valued hard work, family and the importance of education.
The Gary Russell Memorial Bursary, officially established in 2019, is a bursary of $500 for a second year student pursuing a Bachelor of Education. The bursary was created posthumously by Russell’s children and wife as a way to create a lasting legacy.
When Russell passed away in 2018, his daughter Sandra Russell-Smith explained her dad was the inspiration and spark in creating the honorary bursary.
“During discussions with my dad, we knew how important he felt it was for everyone to have an opportunity for an education. Although he never formally requested for us to honour him with this bursary, we understood how proud he would be to play a part in others achieving their educational dreams. Therefore, my husband and I, my younger brother and his wife, and my dad’s wife, Saule, created this bursary in his name,” explained Russell-Smith.
Russell grew up in northern Alberta in the communities of North Star and Manning. He left school after completing Grade 8 and entered the oil field workforce. He worked throughout Alberta and internationally in Africa, the United States, Russia and Europe. Russell also owned his own business, Horizon Transport and created lifelong connections during his career.
While Russell left school early, he always saw immense value in education. His dream was to become a pilot and he wanted everyone to be able to have the opportunity to pursue their dreams. This desire was the reasoning to have the bursary be for a student pursuing a Bachelor of Education.
“Dad was an amazing man who truly wished for himself to have more education and he would be honoured to know someone who genuinely appreciates education is receiving this bursary,” said Russell-Smith. “I know if he was here, he would wish them the absolute best of luck and the best in life.”
Russell, and his family of five children were based in Edmonton. Although no one in the Russell family has attended GPRC as of yet, they knew the College was the perfect institution to have his bursary as the North was where Russell was raised and worked.
“My dad always kept in touch with friends in his hometown of Manning and he would return when he could. He enjoyed how Grande Prairie still has the small town feeling,” recounted Russell-Smith. The North will always have a ‘piece of his heart’.
GPRC also holds an important familial bond to the family. Russell, and his brother Allan Anger, had previously created the Dennis Anger Memorial Award at GPRC for their older brother Dennis. When Anger passed away, his children created the Allan Anger Memorial Bursary. The creation of the Gary Russell Memorial Bursary connects all three brothers through an immortal legacy at the College.
The Gary Russell Memorial Bursary has been set up to be perpetual providing assistance to students to achieve their dreams for decades to come. A quote from Russell before his passing encapsulates his views and values.
Russell’s advice to his children, grandchildren, and young people starting their careers, was always to “get an education” and to, “just be honest, work hard, be on time, have a good attitude, enjoy what you are doing, get along with customers, and co-workers and you will do okay.” – Gary Russell.
Click here to explore bursaries, scholarships and awards available at GPRC.
Click here to learn more about GPRC's Your Vision, Our Students event.