A man who was orphaned at the age of 4, never owned a home and lived the majority of his life in a YMCA. Oh, and he was a millionaire! Don’t believe me, read it for yourself.
Retired millionaire banker makes a bequest to charity. This statement on the surface doesn’t sound too surprising. However, John Wilcox was not the picture of a well-heeled banker. Mr. Wilcox who worked for the same bank for over 39 years was a shy and private person.
Through frugal living and wise investing, this retired bank employee was able to leave an estate of $5 million to various charities benefiting his New Jersey community. Though he would have been very embarrassed by the accolades he received for his generous gifts, Mr. Wilcox would be well satisfied with the positive benefit he made to the world around him.
Reverend Vertue Sharp was a Methodist minister and farmer who lived his life by the words of Jesus in Matthew 25 in which we are taught that whatever we do for the “least of these” we do for him.
Reverend Sharp sought to live out this teaching by leaving his estate of $2 million to two eastern Tennessee area hospitals upon is death in 1999 at the age of 94. Reverend Sharp accumulated his wealth thanks to wise investing, frugal living, and the sale of his farm.
Thanks to Vertue Sharp and his selfless generosity, many of eastern Tennessee’s most vulnerable residents will receive the care and attention they need to live healthy and happy lives. Another Surprise Millionaire lives out their life’s mission by helping others in their community.
A word of caution to all of you potential Surprise Millionaires out there; not everyone is going to understand your values or goals of wealth accumulation, security, and philanthropy.
It appears that the news outlets didn’t understand George Konnight either; a man who passed away in 2014 with a more than $3 million estate.
Mr. Konnight was described as a “recluse” living in a “battered” house who was actually found to be a millionaire. They described the man as a poorly dressed hermit living a life of poverty while sitting on top of millions. They also supplied pictures to prove it.
However, I see something completely different in those pictures. I see a man who was dressed comfortably for a rural northern lifestyle living on a beautiful well-maintained wooded property. Though they claimed the house had no heat, the pictures make it obvious that the home most likely contained a wood burning stove; not practical for New York City but very common further north.
This gentleman was elderly and most probably found it difficult to obtain replacement items for his household (such as lightbulbs) but by no means was he living a substandard lifestyle as proclaimed by the news story.
Until the news media does a better job of reporting on these individuals, the Surprise Millionaires will continue to be a misunderstood bunch.
Happy Mother’s Day from the Surprise Millionaires
A quiet man living in a quiet community makes quite a noise with his generous gift. Robert Damoth left $2.5 million to a community foundation which provides grants for many worthy causes in the northern New York state area. This New York telephone company retiree lead such a quiet life that few people in the community really knew him. He moved to the area after retirement taking advantage of the great fishing in the area and was also known to be an avid reader. He must have also fallen in love with his adopted home as he saw fit to leave them a lasting legacy. Another Surprise Millionaire makes a statement which impacts a community for the better.
Thanks to Budget and Invest for the great book review!
I recently finished ready The Surprise Millionaires by Keith McDowell. A great read indeed. It is packed with amazing stories of ordinary people who passed along extraordinary wealth. Keith did a wonderful job of including stories from all over the country that date back to the beginning of the 20th century. You can purchase the Kindle version of the book for just 99 cents! You can also follow his blog here: https://thesurprisemillionaires.com/
Here are my 3 main takeaways from his book:
- No matter your income level, everyone and I repeat everyone has the opportunity to create wealth over $1,000,000.
- Most if not all of these individuals valued relationships over possessions and money. It was who they could impact with their wealth that was much more important than the amount of earthly items they could collect.
- Every single one of the stories ends with a person(s) creating a lasting…
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