The life and legacy of Stan Grad

Photo of Stan Grad standing on spiral staircase wearing a white cowboy hat.

“SAIT laid the foundation for our family’s success that has allowed us to give back.”
— Stan Grad (1944–2023) 

The flags on campus will fly at half-mast in August as the SAIT community honours the memory of  Stan Grad (Petroleum Technology ‘66) — a leader in business, ranching and philanthropy who died in July at the age of 78. 

“Stan Grad was an inspiration, a savvy businessman and a tireless community builder through his philanthropic efforts,” says SAIT President and CEO, Dr. David Ross. “Above all, he was humble and had a kind word and a helping hand for everyone he met. SAIT, Calgary and Alberta will benefit from his legacy for years to come." 

In Grad’s 2012 memoir, Lassoing the Dream: A Memoir about Ranching, Oil, Community and Family, he was forthright about his struggles to find his footing in school. Grad failed his first year at SAIT but, with the encouragement of his father and the guidance of instructors — particularly Reg Erhardt — he earned his diploma in 1966.  Grad went on to gain a bachelor’s degree in petroleum technology through the University of Wyoming.  After working his way up through the industry, he co-founded Grad & Walker Energy Corporation, an oil and gas exploration and production company that reached the TSE 300 Index before being sold to Crestar Energy in 1997. It was one of many oil and gas enterprises Grad founded, and he served on the boards of many other energy and service companies. 

Grad also brought his entrepreneurial spirit to ranching. As owner of Soderglen Ranches Ltd., he grew the company into Canada’s largest Seedstock cattle operation.  

Through it all, Grad maintained close ties with SAIT, regularly visiting to speak with students and serving on the Board of Governors. He was named SAIT’s Distinguished Alumnus in 1995 and received an Honorary SAIT Bachelor of Applied Technology degree in 1997 for his contributions to the petroleum industry and his commitment to improving the social well-being of Albertans.  

A visionary for promising futures 

Stan Grad standing at a podium   Jane and Stan Grad

In 2011, Grad and his wife, Jane, (pictured together above) presented SAIT with a gift of $7 million as a way of thanking his alma mater for his personal and career successes. This significant gift lifted SAIT’s Promising Futures™ Campaign well above its $75-million target, and was instrumental in constructing SAIT’s Trades and Technology Complex. 

To recognize the Grads’ generosity, SAIT held a celebration in 2011 called “Stan-pede,” where the Institute announced its Heart Building connected to the historic Heritage Hall would be renamed the Stan Grad Centre.  

In his speech thanking SAIT for this honour, Grad went on to announce that, at his own request, SAIT’s Library — located in the Stan Grad Centre — would also be renamed as the Reg Erhardt Library, in tribute to Grad’s former instructor, lifelong mentor and dear friend. An instructor with SAIT for 29 years, Erhardt also served as SAIT’s President from 1990 to 1991.  

Photograph of Reg Erhardt and Stan Grad

Photo of Reg Erhardt and Stan Grad

A lifelong dedication to giving back 

Grad’s drive for change and his philanthropic spirit extended far beyond the SAIT community.  

After his youngest daughter, Kristine, died in a car accident in 1990, Grad began a long-term involvement with the Shock Trauma Air Rescue Society (STARS) as a volunteer, long-time director, chair, co-chair and major donor, supporting emergency medical transportation and treatment for accident victims in rural Alberta.  

Most recently, he and his wife Jane worked to help create Abrio Place, which will offer affordable supported living options for seniors in the Airdrie region.  

Grad also organized a group of like-minded enthusiasts to develop the Upland Birds Alberta (UBA) project, which the Alberta Conservation Agency would later run. He was a member of Ducks Unlimited, Delta Waterfowl and Pheasants Forever. 

He served on the Board of Governors of Mount Royal College (now University) and was a founding member of the Calgary Stampede Foundation.  

In 2015, Grad was inducted into the Calgary Business Hall of Fame and was awarded the Alberta Order of Excellence — the highest honour that the Province of Alberta can bestow on a citizen. 

“Stan Grad’s personal and professional achievements are far-reaching, yet he remained modest and approachable,” says Brian Bowman, Director of Alumni and Development. “He will always be remembered as an inspiring and giving individual, a respected member of SAIT’s alumni family, and a distinguished Albertan who made an immense difference throughout the province.” 

Funeral services will be held at Soderglen Ranches on Saturday, Aug. 19 and live streamed by McInnis & Holloway Funeral Homes, then posted on its website.  

a view of the moutains and stream in between

Oki, Âba wathtech, Danit'ada, Tawnshi, Hello.

SAIT is located on the traditional territories of the Niitsitapi (Blackfoot) and the people of Treaty 7 which includes the Siksika, the Piikani, the Kainai, the Tsuut’ina and the Îyârhe Nakoda of Bearspaw, Chiniki and Goodstoney.

We are situated in an area the Blackfoot tribes traditionally called Moh’kinsstis, where the Bow River meets the Elbow River. We now call it the city of Calgary, which is also home to the Métis Nation of Alberta, Region 3.