Accomplished engineer, Amilcare Ramella, leaves $250,000 to establish NC scholarships

Accomplished chemical engineer Amilcare Ramella, who passed away in June 2010, has left $250,000 to establish new scholarships for Niagara College students.

Ramella’s family was at Niagara College on July 12 to announce the donation, and tour Niagara College’s technology facilities. Ramella’s gift has been endowed and will be matched by the Ontario Trust for Student Support to create two new scholarship funds. The principal will remain untouched and the annual interest will be used to provide scholarships every year. The Remo and Ida Ramella Scholarship, named for Ramella’s parents, will provide four $2,500 scholarships annually for students from Welland entering technology programs. The Amilcare Ramella Scholarship will provide a $2,500 scholarship for a student from Welland entering a technology program, and will be renewed annually if the student maintains an 80 percent academic average.

“We’re very grateful for Mr. Ramella’s generosity,” said Sean Kennedy, Vice President of Student and External Relations and CEO of the Niagara College Foundation. “His legacy will create important opportunities for students who might otherwise be unable to pursue their dreams.”

Ramella was born on First Street in Welland. He received BSc and MSc degrees in chemical engineering from Queen’s University in Kingston before joining the research department of Mobil Corporation in New Jersey in 1948. He participated in many successful developments and commercializations of petroleum refining facilities, and made numerous technical contributions that resulted in improved performance of the catalytic reforming process during his career with Mobil. He retired as a research consultant in 1984, with more than 36 years of service, and returned to his hometown in 1987.

Ramella strongly believed in the value of higher education and in supporting others in achieving their goals. His relatives Fred and Joe Tonin, co-executors of his estate – noted how he wanted everyone, no matter what their circumstances, to have the opportunity to pursue post-secondary education.

“His parents were immigrant parents and realized the importance of education. He was the first one of our family to go to university and he was appreciative of that,” said Fred Tonin.  “He wanted to honour his parents and he wanted to give a chance to students in financial need to realize their dreams.”

Because he lived modestly with only a black-and-white television, and no computer – frequently visiting the Welland Library to research topics of interest – they never would have guessed that he had $1 million in funds to be donated to Niagara College, Brock University, Queen’s University and the Welland Library.  They also said that most people Ramella encountered as he lived out his retirement in Welland were not aware of his education level and professional accomplishments.

“They just saw a humble man who walked the streets and talked to him,” said Tonin. “When they read his obituary, they were shocked to find out had these degrees and travelled the world.”

Fred Tonin, Joe Tonin, both cousins of Amilcare Ramella, with Sean Kennedy, Vice-President of Student and External Relations, and Dr. Adel Esayed, Chair of Technology Studies

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