Obituary of Stan Grad
August 5, 1944 – July 29, 2023
Stan Grad, passed away at the Peter Lougheed Hospital due to complications from a lung infection and cardiac arrest, on Saturday, July 29, 2023, at the age of 78 years.
Stan was raised on the outskirts of NW Calgary where his parents owned a small motel business, the Graddell Motel. Stan received his younger years of schooling in Calgary, attended Notre Dame College in Wilcox, Saskatchewan, obtaining his Petroleum Technology Diploma from S.A.I.T. in Calgary, and a bachelor’s degree in petroleum technology in Laramie, Wyoming.
Business excellence, an entrepreneurial spirit, and inspiring leadership enabled Stan to create success in two separate sectors – energy and ranching, serving both industries with a continuous focus on fostering excellence and innovation.
Stan was the President and Chief Executive Officer of Grad & Walker Energy Corporation that he founded with partner Willard Walker - an oil and gas exploration and production company which reached the TSE 300 Index before being sold to Crestar Energy in 1997. He has subsequently founded additional oil and gas enterprises and served as a Founder/Director on the boards of several other energy and service companies.
Stan became involved in the Seedstock cattle industry over 40 years ago. As the owner of Soderglen Ranches Ltd., which is recognized as the largest Seedstock cattle operation in Canada. He grew the company’s land base to include ranches northwest of Airdrie, southwest of Fort Macleod, and southeast of Cardston Alberta.
His litany of awards and honors included:
2019 - the Distinguished Alumni Award from the University of Wyoming for Petroleum Engineering - the first Canadian to receive this honor.
2015 - the Order of Excellence – the highest honour the Province of Alberta can bestow on a citizen. This award followed an award from the Calgary Business Hall of Fame in 2012.
1968 - The Most Venerable Order of the Hospital of St. John of Jerusalem. Priory of Canada, after reviving a man rendered unconscious by toxic gases near Olds, Alberta.
In addition, Stan brought his leadership and business skills as a founding member of the Calgary Stampede Foundation, as well as a member of the Board of Governors of Mount Royal College. A strong supporter of his alma matter SAIT - the restored Heritage Hall is now rechristened the Stan Grad Centre.
As importantly, Stan always found time and energy to support and engage with his local communities, often being consulted by local leaders and engaging in life changing and community enhancing endeavours.
STARS (Western Canada’s air ambulance trauma service) was one of those organizations that grew, flourished, and changed in many innovative ways through his strong leadership, innovation, and the multiple volunteer roles in which he contributed to governance and philanthropy. With the tragic loss of his daughter Kristine in 1990, he began a journey of over 30 years of passionate dedication to the organization and its lifesaving mission, bringing together the corporate world and the rural community to galvanize support for the then fledgling entity. His fervent passion and dedication are key reasons for STARS becoming what it is today. He filled roles as its first fundraising chairperson, followed by Chair of both the Society and the Foundation Boards of Directors, and as Chair of the Seconds Count Capital Campaign. His wisdom as a leader, entrepreneur, and philanthropist are legendary and he was recognized as a STARS Honorary Member upon his retirement from the organization. Today, STARS now provides care from eastern British Columbia across the three prairie provinces of Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba – an incredible legacy.
Later Stan brought this energy, network, and commitment to the local community around the Soderglen Ranch and his home. As a rapidly growing community of 70,000 people, Airdrie became interested in a focus on in-community healthcare services, initially desiring a hospital. Stan brought together thought leaders and experts to study possibilities and conduct a community needs assessment. Through his leadership, Abrio Health emerged to explore ways to build on and disrupt the healthcare system through a deliberate focus on determinants of health by partnering with those who operate the $21.5B annual Alberta healthcare system. Stan believed that health is an individual and community-driven function, as well as having access to medical services once a person is injured or becomes sick. A legacy to this work will be seen later this year when the Rocky View Foundation opens Abrio Place, offering much needed in community affordable supported living options for seniors in the Airdrie region. Here too, Stan and Jane’s personal generosity helped make this resource available.
In the community around Jane and Stan’s second home, he became Chair of the Punta Mita Hospital Foundation (PMH), Punta Mita, Mexico where his fundraising abilities were legendary. Stan had a profound impact on PMH and the lives he has touched has left an indelible mark that will be cherished for generations to come.
An ardent outdoorsman, he loved being out on the land riding his horse surveying the year’s crops, checking the cattle, appreciating the birds on the lake or in the trees, the doe and her new fawns, and all other wildlife. Stan helped to develop the UBA Project (Upland Birds Alberta) committed to a Pheasant Release program throughout the province and was an avid supporter of Ducks Unlimited.
Stan and Jane’s dedication, passion, and unwavering commitment to bettering the community has been a guiding light for us all.
A big guy, with a deep voice, tough exterior when it needed to be, with a big soft heart for anyone in need. Stan was a true entrepreneur with a deep love for his province, the outdoors, and his community, with a strong belief in philanthropy and community service. His call to action to help in health, the environment, and politics has helped to shape not only his communities, but, indeed, his province and country.
He is survived by his wife Jane Grad, daughters Kara Grad (Wyatt and Sage) and Samantha (Justin) Wharton, (Aria, Georgia, and Addelyn), sister Celeste Grad (Bonita Price) and goddaughter Chelan Lees.
Stan’s “Last Ride” Celebration will be held at Soderglen Ranches (280023 RR 14 Rockyview County) on Saturday, August 19, 2023, at 4:00 p.m. Please dress western or in casual attire. Family and friends who are unable to attend Stan’s “Last Ride” in person are invited to join the service streamed live (see below) on the day of the service. For those who are unable to view live, a recording of the service will be posted. Condolences, memories, and photos can also be shared and viewed here. If friends so desire, memorial tributes may be made directly to S.T.A.R.S. (Shock Trauma Air Rescue Society), Box 570, 1441 Aviation Park N.E., Calgary, AB T2E 8M7 Telephone: (403) 295-1811, www.stars.ca.
In living memory of Stan Grad, a tree will be planted in the Ann & Sandy Cross Conservation Area by McInnis & Holloway Funeral Homes, Airdrie, 300 Towerlane Drive, Airdrie, AB T4B 3L8, Telephone: 403-948-1100.
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Service Recording Link: https://vimeo.com/853441807