He Was the Cat’s Pajamas!

Emil Campbell of Raleigh North Carolina was a true animal lover.  He especially had a soft spot for those of the emil-campbellfeline persuasion.   It so happened that several of the animal shelters in the area were really in need of funding in order to continue their mission of assisting the often neglected and forgotten cat population in the area. Thankfully, Mr. Campbell was able to come through with a “small” donation of $1.7 million!

No, Mr. Campbell was not an executive making a large corporate donation or even a successful business owner who wished to help out the community.  Mr. Campbell was just another individual who lived a thrifty lifestyle which enabled him to accumulate a fair bit of wealth.  One who knew him described him thus:

“(He was) very frugal. He didn’t work a job that paid him a lot of money, but he pinched his pennies and he saved his money.” 

Whether the aim is to live a comfortable retirement, help family members or leave a legacy through community charities, wealth accumulation is possible through hard work, frugality and consistent investing.

The Blue Chip Investor

Many of you are familiar with the story of Ronald Read featured in my book.  For some reason, the media latched on to the story of this Surprise Millionaire and how the one-time gas station attendant, janitor, and wood cutter amassed an $8 million stock portfolio.

As you know, we do not offer investment advice here at the Surprise Millionaires.  Our passion is to extol the virtues of hard work, frugality and consistent long-term investing as a pathway to financial success.  However, I thought it might be worth sharing this overview of Mr. Read’s investment holdings as a reflection of the man and what he accomplished.   Remember, anyone can accumulate wealth!


The Beautiful Beautician

eugenia-dodsonI recently reported on a Surprise Millionaire who super-sized her saving and wealth accumulation leaving it all to Alzheimer’s charities.  However, it appears that we have more than one wealth-accumulating superstar in the bunch.

Eugenia “Gene” Dodson was known as a selfless person who lived her life in such a low-key way that no one knew she was worth millions.  This one-time beautician put her money saving and investing habits into overdrive with a single purpose in mind; to leave as much money as possible to the twin charities of diabetes and cancer research.

And that is just what she did, to the tune of $35 million!

The Doctor’s Wife

bullock-wilkinsFlora 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.

Award Nomination!



I’ve been nominated for the Sunshine Blogger Award! The Sunshine Blogger award is an award for bloggers from bloggers. It’s a way of recognizing bloggers who are positive and who creatively inspire others.

I’d like to thank just making cents for the nomination.

As part of this nomination, I’m supposed to answer 11 questions so here goes:

What is your real-life super power?

My real life super power is a positive attitude.

How do you use this power?

I use this power every day to keep myself positive and hopefully inspire others to do the same.

What do you dream about?

My dreams focus on what I want for my children.  Now that they are young adults I dream that they will find the right spouses and live happy and healthy lives.

What makes you wince?

Mans’ inhumanity to man.  When confronted with these images it always leaves me speechless.

If you can go back and change one thing about your life, what would it be and why?

I don’t think that I would.  Life is a journey that has lead me to where I am right now.  If I changed something I could possibly not be the person I am today.

How were you raised to think about money?

That is an interesting question.  My parents came from very different backgrounds.  My mother came from people who knew how to accumulate and maintain wealth while my father’s family lived life day to day.  As you can imagine, my father’s family was always hard up for money while my mother’s family was financially secure.  Thankfully, my mother wore the “financial pants” in the family and we lived comfortably.  However, observing and contrasting the different ways in which the two sides of my family handled their financial lives was very enlightening.

If you’re a parent, how do you teach your children about money?

My money focus with my kids has always been on saving, investing and living life frugally. I have been rewarded by observing them making wise financial decisions as they begin young adulthood.

If you make more than enough to cover your basic needs, travel, and some savings, has more money beyond basic needs/travel/some savings made you more happy?

That is a hard one.  On some level, I would say yes, mainly due to the fact that I don’t have to worry about a lot of things.  Ultimately though it is the personal relationships in your life that bring you the true happiness no matter what your income level is.

Do you give to charity or research? Why or why not?

Yes I do.  As a person of faith, I believe that contributing to one’s church or favorite charity  brings as much blessing to the giver as the receiver.

You have a magic wand. If you could zap into existence one thing to make your finances better, what would it be?

A money tree!  I would harvest a thousand dollars a day and never work again!

With this magic wand, what else would you create to make your life better?

I would slow down time to give me more opportunity to accomplish all of the things I would like to do on any given day.

Nominate others.

I’d like to nominate the following (in no particular order):

Rules (follow them if you wish):

  • Thank the person who nominated you in a blog post and link back to their blog.
  • Answer the eleven questions sent by the person who nominated you.
  • Nominate eleven new blogs to receive the award and write them eleven new questions (if you wish).
  • List the rules and display the Sunshine Blogger Award logo in your post and/or your blog.


A True Lady and Surprise Millionaire

Helen Banas lived a quiet life during her retirement years in Laguna Woods California. Ahelen-banas 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!

Another Well-Read Surprise Millionaire

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. robert-morin

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!