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.
Chester Tamm spent his entire life in and around the small Wisconsin town of Brillion. One could say that he was almost a fixture in that rural farming community. Born in 1927, Chester operated his family’s farm outside of Brillion until it was sold in 1965. He then took an evening shift position at a local lawn equipment manufacturer until his retirement in 1988. Chester went about his work and his life in a slow steady pace striving for excellence in all that he did.
He was a man who sought to help others in need. He was very active in his church and would not hesitate to help his neighbors whether asked to or not. He was the type of gentleman that anyone would want for a friend, neighbor or family member. However, even with all of these attributes, there was no one in Brillion who would describe Chester Tamm as a wealthy man. That has changed.
After Chester’s passing in 2010 the people of Brillion were shocked to learn that this quiet and modest man had accumulated a “small fortune” over his lifetime and once more had left said fortune to many deserving institutions in and around the town of Brillion Wisconsin. Local churches, community centers and libraries are a little more fiscally sound thanks to Chester Tamm’s most generous gift. Chester was another Surprise Millionaire who made a difference to the people of his community.
Ruth Greiner was a hard working Virginia court stenographer who spent a lifetime working in and around the legal system. Though she was the widow and also the daughter of local attorneys, Ruth was no lady of leisure. In fact, she was so hard working and frugal that she didn’t even own an electric clothes dryer! Surely, someone who did without many of the basic necessities of life would not have the financial backing to make a difference in others lives … or could she?
Flora Cornelia “Neill” Bullock Wilkins lived a quiet life. The widow of a local doctor, Mrs. Wilkins was known around the Fayetteville North Carolina area as a former school teacher and church-going lady who loved her community. It was noted that “She lived quietly and frugally, enjoying her church, family and old friends.”
By all accounts, Mrs. Wilkins was no society matron or jet-setting physician’s wife but rather the spouse of an old-fashioned small town doctor from days gone by. A time when doctors made house calls and would work with patients who didn’t always have the means to pay. There weren’t many jet-setting vacations for these types of physicians.
This is why many charities and institutions in the area were stunned to learn that they were the recipients of Mrs. Wilkins’ $2.7 million estate! What a wonderful gift from a wonderful lady.
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.
Those of you who have been following the Surprise Millionaires for a while know that I have posted and reported on many inspiring and wonderful people. But I have never been as moved as I was reading this man’s story. A humble and consummate gentleman who lived his life quietly while serving and giving back to his community. You can’t read this man’s story and not be inspired.
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. 🙂
In honor of everyone who has supported the Surprise Millionaires over the past three years and to all of you Dads out there, I have made my Kindle ebook free for download for the next 72 hours. Happy Father’s Day everyone and thank you for your support!