Well-known Edmonton philanthropist Barbara Poole has died at the age of 83.

Poole, along with her husband John, helped bring the Edmonton Community Foundation back to life and donated to the Alberta Ballet, Edmonton Symphony and Citadel Theatre.

The couple made an initial donation of $5 million to help kickstart the fundraising campaign that led to the construction of the new Art Gallery of Alberta which opened in downtown Edmonton in January 2010.

In 1989, the Pooles were one of the three Edmonton families whose donations resuscitated the Edmonton Community Foundation.

"She really modelled or exemplified what philanthropy is all about. What it means to give back to your community without expectation of recognition or anything for it," said executive director Martin Garber-Conrad

"It was never about John and Barbara demanding that they be front and centre."

Barbara Poole was also a long-time supporter of the Edmonton Opera.

"I think she knew in her heart, not just in her mind, that it is the arts and the culture that makes a society what it is," said Edmonton Opera CEO Sandra Gajic.

"She was a great advocate but she was actually the one walking that talk."

Poole's husband John died in 2007 at the age of 90.