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Man Who Lived Modestly Leaves Millions In Surprise Donations
Old 02-04-2015, 11:39 AM   #1
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Man Who Lived Modestly Leaves Millions In Surprise Donations

This is another of those "Man who worked as a janitor surprises everyone by leaving millions" kind of stories. This particular one is about a Vermont man who, according to the article, lived modestly, yet on his death, surprised the community by leaving $4.8M to a local hospital and $1.2M to a local library.

I know that some here are not planning on leaving much, if anything, behind, and others have children, spouses and other family members to whom they will leave their assets. I was wondering though, if anyone does have a dastardly plan to give the institution or charity of their choosing a pleasant shock by bequeathing a good portion of their assets?

Man who lived modestly leaves millions in surprise donations
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Old 02-04-2015, 11:53 AM   #2
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If they posted it here, then it wouldn't be a surprise anymore

And it might make 'em a target for swindlers, leeches, etc.
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Old 02-04-2015, 12:23 PM   #3
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I enjoy my frugal ways and it seems "suddenly" I have this wealth.

Every now and then I think what I'd like to do with it. Probably along the lines of what I'd do if I won the lottery, just not so much.

I follow Bill Gates on his FB page and I'm really impressed by the guy. He truly wants to make the world a better place.
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Old 02-04-2015, 01:12 PM   #4
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Sounds like another New England Yankee like my dear, good, ol' Grand Dad.

We hated to see him go...but he made us all so happy when he did. We think of him every quarter...sniff.
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Old 02-04-2015, 03:58 PM   #5
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Yup. Have seen a lot of "closet" millionaires over the years... people that you would never expect by looking at their lifestyle.
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Old 02-04-2015, 06:18 PM   #6
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I was wondering though, if anyone does have a dastardly plan to give the institution or charity of their choosing a pleasant shock by bequeathing a good portion of their assets?
Not me. I'm single, never married, no kids, and no relatives I plan on leaving anything to anyway.

While I name a couple charities as beneficiaries on company-sponsored life insurance policies and things like that, I'm not the kind of person who would live that frugally with millions in the bank.

The bulk of that $6 million would be spent on me enjoying life, not leaving it behind for somebody else to enjoy once I'm rotting in the ground.
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Old 02-04-2015, 06:29 PM   #7
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Yup. Have seen a lot of "closet" millionaires over the years... people that you would never expect by looking at their lifestyle.
And prob seen lots of 'millionaire lifestyle' types who were a thin dime from bankruptcy.
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Old 02-04-2015, 06:48 PM   #8
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Yup. Have seen a lot of "closet" millionaires over the years... people that you would never expect by looking at their lifestyle.
That was Grand Dad. Deprived himself of even the most basic comforts (and deprived his children of any financial assistance), died with just his 25 watt light bulb burning in a freezing cold 20 room house and left high-8 figures when he left.

Heirs have been FIRE and having a good time for the past 35 years and counting! What an old fool!
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Old 02-04-2015, 07:35 PM   #9
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That was Grand Dad. Deprived himself of even the most basic comforts (and deprived his children of any financial assistance), died with just his 25 watt light bulb burning in a freezing cold 20 room house and left high-8 figures when he left.

Heirs have been FIRE and having a good time for the past 35 years and counting! What an old fool!
Really not sure how you actually feel about Grand Dad...
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Old 02-04-2015, 07:53 PM   #10
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Really not sure how you actually feel about Grand Dad...
Actually, he was a really cool guy. He did some fun and funny stuff. Dined with a few Presidents and guys like H. Ford etc. Some amazing stories about stuff he did in his life.

He wasn't sentimental though and 'gift' was a four letter word. There were times when some in the family really could've used his help but his standard was "you made your bed, lie in it!", but it was more a way to not part with a buck than a matter of tough love.

I've told the story on this forum where when his care-giver told him she had lost her other job, he cut her pay because "I figured that now she had no where else to go and wouldn't leave no matter how little I paid her"

So, he ended up this hermit living in a dark, cold room with a little TV because he wouldn't spend a dime.

It was just so frustrating to see him live that way when he could've at least made himself more comfortable in his passing years, but ...no.

As noted, the heirs have been making up for lost time "contributing to the economy" ever since he died.
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Old 02-04-2015, 08:07 PM   #11
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That was Grand Dad. Deprived himself of even the most basic comforts (and deprived his children of any financial assistance), died with just his 25 watt light bulb burning in a freezing cold 20 room house and left high-8 figures when he left.

Living in relative squalor with high *8* figures in the bank?!? Good grief! His name wasn't Ebenezer, was it?
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Old 02-04-2015, 08:14 PM   #12
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Living in relative squalor with high *8* figures in the bank?!? Good grief! His name wasn't Ebenezer, was it?
The name just about captures it. Crazy old coot. LBYM on acid.
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Old 02-04-2015, 10:20 PM   #13
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Actually, he was a really cool guy. He did some fun and funny stuff. Dined with a few Presidents and guys like H. Ford etc. Some amazing stories about stuff he did in his life.

He wasn't sentimental though and 'gift' was a four letter word. There were times when some in the family really could've used his help but his standard was "you made your bed, lie in it!", but it was more a way to not part with a buck than a matter of tough love.

I've told the story on this forum where when his care-giver told him she had lost her other job, he cut her pay because "I figured that now she had no where else to go and wouldn't leave no matter how little I paid her"

So, he ended up this hermit living in a dark, cold room with a little TV because he wouldn't spend a dime.

It was just so frustrating to see him live that way when he could've at least made himself more comfortable in his passing years, but ...no.

As noted, the heirs have been making up for lost time "contributing to the economy" ever since he died.
That guy? Remember that caregiver story and can't say it showed him in a favorable light. Must have been human and a mixture of good and bad, as are we all. A strong character though - no neutral beige he!
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Old 02-05-2015, 12:21 AM   #14
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I read the article. Here's the highlight.
A man who sometimes held his coat together with safety pins and had a long-time habit of foraging for firewood also had a knack for picking stocks — a talent that became public after his death when he bequeathed $6 million to his local library and hospital.
...
Read was born in the small town of Dummerston in 1921. He was the first in his family to graduate from high school, walking and hitchhiking about 4 miles each way from his home to school in Brattleboro. After military service during World War II, he returned to Brattleboro and worked at a service station for 25 years and then 17 years as a janitor at the local J.C. Penney...
...
Stepson Phillip Brown, of Somersworth, New Hampshire, told the Brattleboro Reformer he visited Read every few months, more often as Read's health declined. The only indication Brown had of Read's investments was his regular reading of the Wall Street Journal.

So, this man built up his fortune entirely by investing the savings off his modest wage. He had no help from inheritance, nor a good paying job. I am very impressed by his investment skills. He read the WSJ. I don't think he was an indexer. Do you?
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Old 02-05-2015, 05:53 AM   #15
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That guy? Remember that caregiver story and can't say it showed him in a favorable light. Must have been human and a mixture of good and bad, as are we all. A strong character though - no neutral beige he!
Kinda funny (Karma?) that a guy who wouldn't 'gift' a dime actually had one of his kidneys stolen at one point in his life. (I'm not making this up!)

But I'll end this here.
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Old 02-05-2015, 07:52 AM   #16
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The name just about captures it. Crazy old coot. LBYM on acid.
Understood, but just so there's no misunderstanding, "high 8 figures" means like, 80-90 million dollars, correct? How does someone with such a conservative personality manage to accumulate such a massive sum of wealth? Lottery? Inheritance?
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Old 02-05-2015, 08:26 AM   #17
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Understood, but just so there's no misunderstanding, "high 8 figures" means like, 80-90 million dollars, correct? How does someone with such a conservative personality manage to accumulate such a massive sum of wealth? Lottery? Inheritance?
A good part was inheritance, then running a very good, highly profitable business, and...not spending a dime (relatively speaking) of it for most of his life.

He wasn't always quite that bad/frugal but as he got older he withdrew more and more financially.
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Old 02-05-2015, 09:03 AM   #18
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Although admirable. I will make sure that I will not be like him.
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Old 02-05-2015, 10:34 AM   #19
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I read the local story from his town that had a few more details and his total estate was 8.1 million dollars accumulated through investments in individual stocks, which along with woodcutting were his two hobbies he enjoyed along with manual labor. If he had 800,000 dollars at age 62 and invested with a return of 8 percent average annually that would come to 8 million in 30 years in his death at age 62. If he had $400,000 at age 62 he would have needed a 10.5% return.

Since he worked well past age 62 and lived very frugally one could assume he never touched his investment cache that was his prime hobby. This is what he apparently liked to do, as a very frugal person or even a miser a cost is that you will have few friends, for the spendthrift you will have too many. It is admirable in the results of what he enjoyed enabled others after his death to be able to utilize the fruits of his labor.
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Old 02-05-2015, 10:43 AM   #20
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Understood, but just so there's no misunderstanding, "high 8 figures" means like, 80-90 million dollars, correct?
Hmmm......a relatively conservative WR of 2.5% on an $80M portfolio would be $2M/year. I could buy a really nice bicycle and adopt a few more cats on that kind of money
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