Now that I have your attention; no, this is not the title of the latest horror flick at the box office. This is the story of a former janitor, gas station attendant and wood-cutter who was not only handy with an axe but handy with picking stocks as well.
Ronald Read was born in Dummerston Vermont in 1921 to a family of modest means. Ronald displayed a hard-working and dedicated attitude from the start. Determined to be the first in his family to graduate high school, Ronald would walk or hitch hike the four miles to and from school each day not letting rain, snow, sleet or hail deter him from his mission. As a result, in 1940 Mr. Read was the first person in his family to graduate high school.
He next received a free tour of Italy, Africa and the South Pacific thanks to Uncle Sam and the Second World War returning to Dummerston just before Christmas 1945.
Not one to let grass grow under him, Mr. Read took a job as an attendant at a local gas station; a position he held for the next 25 years. He followed up with semi-retirement and a janitorial position at a local department store for several more years. Oh, and there was always the woodcutting.
Mr. Read loved to chop wood for his home stove and did so well into his nineties. He would also pick up broken limbs to use for kindling. I wouldn’t be surprised if Mr. Read sold a little bit of that wood for a profit as well! His frugalness was legendary. He would not spend money unless he absolutely had to.
Looking at Mr. Read’s life on the surface, one would assume that he was not a person of great financial wealth. Since this was a man fond of wearing old flannel shirts and a coat held together by safety pins, it comes as no surprise that Mr. Read caught the attention of and benefited from the charity of those around him from time to time. People were known to give him clothing and he was a regular at the free holiday meals provided around the community.
Mr. Read died in June of 2014 at the age of 92 leaving a well-stocked wood pile in his garage and a well-stocked bank account as well. It was reported that upon his death Mr. Read’s stock and property holdings were valued at $8 million, most of which was left to the local library and hospital. Mr. Read enjoyed reading books at the library and was always treated kindly by the staff at the local hospital whenever he went there for treatment. (Am I the only one who finds it funny that Mr. READ left money to the library?)
As it turns out, those who were close to him said that Mr. Read had two great hobbies, investing and woodcutting. It appears that he was great at both. No one in his life knew that he had that kind of money and I believe that is just the way he wanted it.
I believe the thing we have to learn from Mr. Read is dedication. You can’t get an education, accumulate wealth or accomplish much else in life without the dedication to see things through. Mr. Read displayed this wonderful quality and a small town library and hospital will be reaping the benefits for some time to come.