It appears a Wyoming man made his own will in order to leave nothing to chance. Tom Woodyard of Riverton Wyoming knew that he was getting older and wanted to make sure that his wishes were known and carried out when his time came. So, did Mr. Woodyard hire an attorney to hammer out the details? Nope. This retired educator did it all himself! He drafted a very detailed will in which he left his secret fortune to more charities than could be cataloged in a short blog post! Everyone from the Boy Scouts to hospices, fishing organizations to churches, can thank Tom Woodyard for his generous gifts. And thankfully, the courts determined this gentleman’s do it yourself will 100% legal and binding. While I admire Mr. Woodyard’s do it yourself attitude, when we are dealing with such a large estate, it might be a good idea to get a little legal advice along the way. Regardless, it looks like we have another inspiring Surprise Millionaire to add to our list!
“Where did the wealth come from? Hard work, thriftiness and smart investing throughout her life …”
Seventeen Washington State community colleges will share in the $10 million estate amassed by Surprise Millionaire, Eva Gordon. Raised on an apple orchard in Eugene Oregon during the Great Depression, Mrs. Gordon knew what it was like to do without. That’s why, when she later got a job as a trading assistant at an investment firm in Seattle, she learned all she could about investing and wealth accumulation.
She squirreled away every extra dollar she could to invest in blue-chip stocks that would pay her handsome dividends in the years to come. And pay off they did. Thanks to her early hard work, thriftiness and smart investing Mrs. Gordon was able to live her later years in comfort and leave quite a bit for some deserving institutions as well.
A little technical college in Milwaukee received a surprising gift a few years ago that has been assisting students with the cost of schooling ever since. And to think, all of this from a little old lady who took some sewing and painting classes at the college after her retirement. Another Surprise Millionaire has left their legacy and made their mark on the local community!
I have had the pleasure of following Dave Ramsey and his organization for quite some time. Dave is well known for helping people get out of debt and also helping them to accumulate some wealth along the way. He uses financial concepts found in biblical scripture as well as plain common sense to help people reach their financial goals.
One of Dave’s most popular segments from his podcast/radio show is the “Millionaire Theme Hour” in which regular folks who are currently millionaires call in and explain how they reached this milestone. During one of these segments I was happy to hear from a lady who we would describe as a Surprise Millionaire. This particular lady related how she accumulated her wealth by living below her means and investing wisely. It is a rare chance to hear a Surprise Millionaire in their own words so I couldn’t resist the opportunity to introduce “Terry from Denver” to my readers. Enjoy!
Pennsylvania mechanical engineer, Raymond Suckling, lived a modest life. Fond of White Castle hamburgers and the chipped beef served at his local diner, Mr. Suckling would not be described as a connoisseur of the finer things in life. That is unless you count the fine quality of his friendships and his sterling character.
Mr. Suckling’s life did start out with what one might think of as somewhat privileged. The son of a business executive, Raymond was afforded a good education even after his father’s death when Raymond was only a boy. But it appears that the “silver spoon” stopped there. Mr. Suckling’s adult life was characterized by hard work, sound investing and a frugal, unassuming character.
As you can imagine, it was quite a shock to his friends and associates when they learned that Mr. Suckling had left an estate totaling $37.1 million to a Pittsburgh area charity.
Who would have thought that the man who was fond of Velcro sneakers, drove a Subaru and loved White Castle hamburgers was the same man who accumulated $37.1 million? No one, apparently! While some reports state that the majority of Raymond’s wealth was inherited, those who knew him best indicate that it was a combination of inherited and accumulated wealth due to Ray’s unassuming frugal ways.
Regardless of the origin of his wealth, it was Mr. Suckling’s unassuming thrifty lifestyle which allowed him to make such a dynamic impact on his community and change lives for the better.
… he taught me that it’s not about yourself. ‘Do something for someone else — someone you’ll never meet.’
I’m sure there are many of us who could tell a story about a teacher who once inspired us, made us think about life in a different way or just made learning fun! Today’s Surprise Millionaire did all of those things while accumulating some wealth along the way.
High school chemistry teacher Pat ‘Weird’ Ward inspired his students with his wacky way of teaching chemistry. This led his students to bestow upon him the honorary moniker of ‘Weird’ Ward. Mr. Ward was also the type of teacher who inspired his students to reach for more in life than what they thought they might attain in their Tulsa Oklahoma neighborhoods. So it was no surprise upon his passing that this long time educator left a bequest to education. However, the size and scope of the gift was quite unexpected.