Former local grocery store magnate John ­Overbay gave $1 million to the Central Oregon Community College Foundation, the college announced Tuesday.

Overbay attended COCC in 1952, and was one of the college’s first students, according to the college’s press release. He also served on COCC Foundation’s board of trustees for 20 years and was elected four times to the COCC board of directors, serving 13 years.

“I consider COCC to be among the best colleges you could find anywhere in this country,” Overbay said in the press release. “It provided me, and has provided thousands of others, with a great education.”

The COCC Foundation is a nonprofit organization that pays for student financial assistance and contributes to funding college programs and capital improvements.

Overbay was the owner of the local grocery chain Wagners, which was previously owned by his in-laws. He also developed the shopping center properties that surrounded the Wagners stores, including Wagner Mall in northeast Bend. In the mid-1990s, Albertsons purchased the Wagners chain and Overbay’s company, Overbay Development Inc., according to the press release.

Several of Overbay’s children and grandchildren have also attended COCC, including one granddaughter who is currently studying in the college’s health information management program, the press release stated.

Overbay has donated to the COCC Foundation for years, and once co-led a campaign for the college that raised $6 million, the press release stated. A conference room in COCC’s Health Careers Center is named after him due to his involvement and donations to the college.

“This is a transformative gift, and we are beyond grateful,” said Zak Boone, the COCC Foundation’s executive director. “This legacy will literally translate into hundreds of fully funded scholarships going forward, to open doors and improve the lives of countless Central Oregonians.”

— Reporter: 541-617-7854, jhogan@bendbulletin.com

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