Land .. the original investment vehicle and still a great way to become the Surprise Millionaire in the many farming communities dotting our great nation. Millicent Atkins who lived in and around the small farming communities of South Dakota all of her life evidently knew this fact. So much so, that the public was astounded to learn the wealth she left behind put her in league with the likes of Mark Zuckerberg and Michael Bloomberg as one of the top 50 Americans who donated the most money in 2013!
This from a lady who flew so far under the radar she could frequently be seen visiting her bank wearing the same old farm clothes she had worn earlier that day managing her farmland. This same frugal and business minded lady grew her land holdings to a total of 4000 acres at the time of her passing making her a true land baron as well as one of the biggest philanthropists around!
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.
An enterprising math teacher thought of an inventive way to teach his students exactly what a “million” meant. This is just one of the many ways this dedicated teacher, train engineer and business owner found to help his students, both past and present, as well as the community of Winona Minnesota at large. Is it any “surprise” that this unassuming man would turn out to be a very wealthy man? If you are a regular reader of this blog I think you know the answer to that!
Long before the debit card changed the landscape of the financial industry, check printing was a business that thrived in America. While today, most millennials would be hard pressed to describe the purpose and use of the paper check, it was a staple in the lives of most people during the 20th Century. Which brings me to the story of a most enterprising young lady who got in on the ground floor of this emerging industry. And how some simple stock purchases grew to make this young lady a “Surprise Millionaire Deluxe” .
Eileen Russell the retired P.E. instructor and field hockey coach at the University of Georgia was a frugal sort. Known for repairing the teams’ hockey sticks to save the university money, Eileen believed in stretching a dollar as far as it could go. She was also quite fond of letting others know that she hadn’t much money herself.
Imagine everyone’s surprise when they learned that Eileen had left her $1.7 million estate to the university! I think the comment below sums up the sentiment:
“UGA officials do not know how she amassed the money — and Jewett remarked that Russell’s salary and retirement package from UGA would not have amounted to such a sum…”
I think I can answer that question. It was through frugality and wise and consistent investing; the hallmarks of a Surprise Millionaire.
Helen Banas lived a quiet life during her retirement years in Laguna Woods California. A widow for more than 50 years, Helen was fond of the simple things in life such as eating bonbons and enjoying the beautiful Southern California weather from the balcony of her modest townhome.
Known as a frugal sort, Helen did not spend money on things she did not need but rather chose to invest her income and watch it grow. And grow it did!
Upon her death in 2012 Helen left a whopping $27 million to both local and national Alzheimers charities. It turns out that Helen’s mother had suffered from the disease years earlier and she wanted to provide funds for research and the care of those affected. This multi-million dollar Surprise Millionaire is a great example of what can happen when you invest wisely over an extended period of time. The results can be astounding!
A big thank you to fiscallyfitchica for letting me know about this wonderful Surprise Millionaire!
Robert “Bob” Morin spent nearly fifty years working as a cataloger for the University of New Hampshire library while quietly accumulating a vast amount of wealth.
Mr. Morin was obviously a no frills kind of guy as evidenced in the news article below but led a very busy life:
“Morin wasn’t a big spender, but he kept busy. UNH said Morin was passionate about movies, and watched more than 22,000 videos from 1979 to 1997. He also read every book published in America between 1930 and 1940, excluding children’s books, textbooks and books about cooking and technology, UNH said.”
By living frugally and investing wisely, Mr. Morin was able to leave a $4 million estate to the university that he loved. The funds will be used to enhance the campus career center and a host of other projects. Let’s hope Mr. Morin’s example inspires others to live frugally, invest wisely and bless others with the results!
I recently became aware of a Surprise Millionaire who created quite a sensation a few years ago by the name of Matel “Matt” Dawson, Jr. more affectionately known around Detroit as the “forklift philanthropist”.
Born in Shreveport Louisiana, Mr. Dawson spent his formative years surviving the great depression and the inequality of that time. He wasn’t able to go to high school as he had to work to help support his family, but that didn’t mean he was opposed to scholastics.
On the contrary, Mr. Dawson believed that education was a tremendous thing and wanted young people to pursue their dreams without the worry of financial strain. This Detroit forklift operator who worked more than 60 years at his job gave a total of $1.25 million in scholarship money over his lifetime to deserving young people. He lived frugally, invested wisely and was able to help many others in the process. Another inspiring Surprise Millionaire story!