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Richard E. Winter, who delivered Pepsi-Cola between classes at Canisius College more than 50 years ago, is giving the school $2.25 million, college officials announced today.

It is the largest gift in Canisius' 127-year history -- and the college intends to honor the gift by naming its Student Center for Winter in October.

"Words cannot adequately express the gratitude of the entire Canisius community for this tremendous display of support and generosity by Dick Winter," the Rev. Vincent M. Cooke, Canisius president, said. "Dick has made an extraordinary, historic and personal commitment to the future of Canisius College, one which will enhance the quality of life for Canisius students and our entire community for years to come."

A 1942 social studies graduate of the college, Winter is president and general manager of Pepsi-Cola Ogdensburg Bottlers. He has lived in Ogdensburg since purchasing the Pepsi franchise there in 1943.

"I'm very pleased to be able to assist Canisius in realizing the substantial goals set forth by Father Cooke," said Winter, who is in town to celebrate his 55th reunion with 40 fellow 1942 Canisius College graduates.

"I'm also a firm believer in reinvesting in our communities and am proud to support the investment Canisius is making in the Buffalo community," he said. "Although I've lived away from Buffalo for over 50 years, it has always remained a part of me."

Winter, who grew up on Ellicott Street, graduated from St. Joseph's Collegiate Institute before enrolling at Canisius College in 1938.

His family's business, Winter Brothers, had purchased the local Pepsi franchise the year before, and Winter came to school each day in an open flat-bed delivery truck.

He parked the truck at the college and, between morning and evening classes, made deliveries for Winter Brothers Pepsi-Cola in Western New York.

"I credit my Jesuit training with instilling in me a great sense of Christian life," he said of his pledge of $2.25 million to his alma mater.

A total of $1 million will be used for improvements to the Student Center; $250,000 will be for permanently endowed scholarships for deserving students; the remaining $1 million will be for capital improvements and will go to the college's upcoming capital campaign.

The late Richard J. Wehle, a longtime Buffalo businessman, gave a "multimillion-dollar" gift to Canisius in 1989. The exact amount of the gift was not disclosed, but at the time it was the largest single donation in the college's history.

Winter's donation exceeds it, college officials said today.

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