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!
We are all aging. It is just a fact of life. However, many people react to this fact by withdrawing from daily life thinking that they have nothing to contribute to the world. This would never be said of today’s Surprise Millionaire Helen Yecny. This northern California lady recently passed away at the ripe old age of 99 and with the accolades and praise heaped upon her, you would think she was a young vibrant person half her age!
Frugal to a fault and always saving for that “rainy day”, Helen was quite the character. Content to live in the home and walnut orchard that she was born in, Helen could be seen most days tending to her yard and her orchard working to maintain the business that had supplemented she and her husband Lou’s income for decades.
However, don’t let it be said that Helen didn’t know how to enjoy life! After Lou’s passing, Helen became quiet the traveler accompanying friends to such places as Alaska, Mexico, Hawaii and Europe. She was also known for her quick wit and sense of humor which would liven up any conversation she was involved in.
Having not been blessed with children, Helen and Lou wanted to find a way to assist the children of the Central Valley region of California with obtaining a much-needed education.
This is why California State University, Stanislaus is the grateful recipient of $2.3 million from Helen’s estate. The funds will be used to sponsor scholarships through the university’s undergraduate honors program. But that’s not all, rumor has it that Helen left funds to some of the local high school districts as well.
I believe Helen’s obituary says it best, “Helen’s afterglow will be felt for generations to come.” What a wonderful statement and what a wonderful life!
A Surprise Millionaire in Georgia thought he was doing a wonderful thing by leaving his local church a staggering bequest of $60,000,000; his entire life’s savings. However, the momentous event seemed to be more of a burden for the small congregation instead of a blessing. Where to use the money and how to use the money were decisions left up to the congregation with no direction from their benefactor. For a house of faith who wanted to remain just that, a house of the faithful; this posed some major concerns.
Would greed rear its ugly head, would they make the right decisions regarding the use of the money when there were literally thousands of worthy causes and organizations that could benefit? These concerns were turning what was meant to be a wonderful thing in to a major stressor for the church and its congregation.
This brings me to my point for all of you potential Surprise Millionaires out there. When determining who you will leave your wealth to, it is best to divide that wealth between several organizations, individuals and worthy causes rather than placing the entire estate and all of the pressures it may bring on one entity. Secondly, please either stipulate or at least suggest what you would like the funds to be used for.
A little planning on your part could save some very grateful, but conflicted people a little angst in the future.
Ninety-eight-year-old Findlay Ohio resident, Margaret Elizabeth Taylor, wanted to do something worthwhile with the $1.1 million estate she had accumulated as the proverbial Surprise Millionaire. But what she decided to do with the money was well, a little different.
She told her family that they would not receive any money from her estate because what she would do with the funds would benefit a whole lot of people. No, she didn’t leave the money to any charity that you would be familiar with. What she DID do with the money is rather shocking…
Just when I thought I had read the most inspiring story ever (last post), I came across the story of Anna Kurzweil of Kansas City. A lifelong teacher and student of learning who put faith and others first in her life.
A world traveler (working in a leper colony!) gifted educator, writer, and poet, she counted her wealth in the friends she made, the family she loved and the faith she treasured, not in her bank book. But oh how her bank book told its own story!
Upon her death, the faith-based charities she honored were stunned to learn they would be the recipients of Anna’s $2 million estate!
Another amazing life well-lived and a benefit to mankind in general and their local community.
A quiet man in Chicago whose death didn’t really make the news certainly made the news recently. James A. Flavin, a man who wore old clothes, drove a beat-up car and lived in a small home in a poor neighborhood was thought to have an estate worth about $53,000. But then they opened that safe deposit box…
It’s the last day to download my Kindle ebook for free. I would like to thank all of you who have already downloaded your copy and hope you enjoy the read! The Surprise Millionaires has been a labor of love for me and a chance to profile some of the unsung heroes of giving and philanthropy in our world. Thanks again. 🙂