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Although they never attended Red Deer College, Bill and Irma Welikoklad feel as if they’re part of the campus.

CHRIS BOLIN/The Globe and Mail

The donors: Bill and Irma Welikoklad

The gift: $1.25-million

The cause: Red Deer College

Story continues below advertisement

Bill Welikoklad's ties to Red Deer College stretch back to the school's founding, literally.

Back in 1966, Mr. Welikoklad got a job as a construction foreman when the new complex was being built in Red Deer, Alta.

Mr. Welikoklad, who grew up on a farm just outside the city, went on to start his own construction company, now called Home Building Centre and run by his son, Jason.

He and his wife Irma never left Red Deer and have kept a close connection to the college. In 2010, they donated $250,000 to fund various scholarships and last June they contributed $1-million. Some of that gift will go toward more scholarships and the remainder will fund other programs.

Mr. Welikoklad, 79, never had a chance to attend college or university. "We were poor folk," he recalled. "We had to work on the farm." But now he and Ms. Welikoklad feel part of the campus through their scholarships and attending assorted shows.

"I can't think of a better place to donate money than to your own community," Mr. Welikoklad said. Then he added with a chuckle: "And they tell me you can't take it with you."

pwaldie@globeandmail.com

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