The Consummate Professional

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Sylvia Bloom was a legal secretary who was described as a consummate professional by those who knew her.   She worked for the same law firm for 67 years until she retired at the ripe old age of 96!  But Sylvia the consummate professional had a secret.  During her early years, Sylvia’s job as a secretary included making personal investments for the partners of her law firm.  Whatever the law partners invested in, Sylvia invested in as well (in a smaller amount of course).  This turned out to be a great investment strategy, to the tune of $9 million!

The Jet Set Millionaire

No, don’t let the title fool you.  The millionaire in question was not some corporate titan or Hollywood celebrity flying the friendly skies in first class.  Oh no, this millionaire was the flight attendant who served them!

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Read more about her legacy at the York County Community Foundation (YCCF).

He Engineered His Success

“In an age of pretension that’s often self-aggrandizing, he was the opposite..”

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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.

What A Wonderful Life!

“Helen was one of the strongest ladies we have ever known, she did it her way!”

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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!

“Weird Ward” A True Teacher

… he taught me that it’s not about yourself. ‘Do something for someone else — someone you’ll never meet.’

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Teachers

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.

Destined For Greatness

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Named after the great 19th century education reformer, it would seem that college professor Horace Mann was always destined to be an educator.  However, most college professors are not destined to become millionaires.  That takes frugality and long term investing.  Fortunately, Horace Mann had all of the attributes to make that happen!