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Supporting future leaders and honouring a good man

Raymond Galer

Raymond Galer was a hard-working man who never had the opportunity to attend university. But he valued education and saved carefully to ensure his two children would.

A century after Raymond was born on a farm in southern Ontario in 1919, those children—Joan Kloss and James Galer—have each established a planned gift in their wills to ensure future generations can study at SFU.

“Having well-educated citizens helps all of us,” Joan explains. “Look at what’s going on around the world these days with all its challenges. When you have an education you have a more open viewpoint and can be in a better place to solve these challenges and change things for the better.”

Joan and James are both retired elementary school educators and SFU alumni. During their own upbringing and throughout their careers, they encountered many families who struggled financially just to meet their basic needs. 

“We saw lots of really bright kids whose parents never had the money to send them to school,” Joan says. “Those kids never got the chance to really explore what they could do.”

Creating an endowment for scholarships reflects their thoughtful commitment to help students in need while honouring the memory of their father.

“My dad would have been 10 years old at the start of the Depression and had a very insular life on the farm,” James says. “When he went off to war, it was a huge eye-opener for him and changed his life. Our own lives would have been very different if it weren’t for his experience.”

Trained as a radio operator, Raymond served in Canada’s Merchant Navy in the North Atlantic and later intercepted signals from Japan while based in Richmond, B.C. He met his future wife on the west coast, and after some years in Ontario, relocated his family to Kamloops, then Clearwater and eventually Burnaby.

Raymond worked shifts at Trans Mountain for most of his 31 years at the company, and was recognized with its “iron man” award for having not missed a day of work in 25 years.

“Rather than taking over the family farm as the oldest son, Dad decided to take risks, he worked hard and he invested well,” James says. “We were the beneficiaries of that wise investment, and were even able to turn some of that into this scholarship.”

Reflecting upon their philanthropic decisions, they both encourage others to consider making planned gifts.

“Think about your own values and how you can use what you have, no matter how much or how little, to give back to the world,” Joan says. “What has been meaningful in your life? Is there a way to help organizations help others? Whatever you can do – it doesn’t have to be a lot!” 


Galer family