No one would call her an influential person … until now. Lucille Taylor lived her entire life in and around the small town of Middleton Wisconsin. During her formative years, she worked on her family’s fruit and dairy farm. Having left school after the eighth grade to care for her ailing mother and younger siblings, she didn’t have the opportunity for an advanced education that might help her land a job paying more than minimum wage .
She soon married a young man of similar background and they proceeded to make their way in the world with her cleaning houses and he driving trucks. Besides their meager circumstances, this young couple also endured the additional heartache of never being able to have the children they so wanted.
The Taylors persevered through these circumstances living the classic hard-working life typical of many americans. However, never let it be said that the Taylors didn’t know how to enjoy life! Throughout their lives they managed to travel to nearly all 50 states and even did some international travel as well.
However, even with their frequent travels the Taylors never failed to save and invest a portion of their limited income with the hopes of having a nest egg for their retirement years.
This brings us to 2013 when the now widowed Lucille wanted to use a portion of that “nest egg” to enhance the lives of the children of Middleton. After considering several options, she settled on a $100,000 donation to begin work on a city park with more to follow over the coming years! The people of Middleton were shocked by this wonderful gesture.
But wait, there’s more. The local business community was so impressed by Lucille’s vision and spirit of giving that they stepped up as well to raise additional funding to get the park properly launched. As a result, the groundbreaking ceremony for the Harvey John & Lucille Taylor Memorial Park was held on May 11, 2015 with Lucille as the guest of honor!
And the accolades just kept on coming! Lucille was subsequently honored with the Wisconsin Park & Recreation Association’s 2015 Fellowship Award once again as the guest of honor.
We could all learn a lot from the life of Lucille Taylor. She is the perfect example that living below your means while saving and investing could make any of us wealthy some day. More importantly though, following these concepts could give all of us that same opportunity to become an influential person in our own communities just like Lucille.
If you were to ask her friends and neighbors, 93-year-old Queenie Cunningham was a very nice lady who was considered an asset to her small Scottish highland town. The retired secretary who suffered from the after effects of polio and had spent time in an iron lung as a young woman, never let her disability slow her down. She grew her own vegetables, was an ardent animal lover and never missed an episode of her favorite soap operas. All in all she was quite the character.
These days Queenie is more known for the amazing gifts she left her favorite charities after her 2017 passing. Most of her secret 2.2 million pound estate is currently shared by such organizations as the Salvation Army, the British Red Cross and Highland Hospice.
While the fact that Queenie was so generous upon her passing surprised no one, the fact that she was a multi-millionaire certainly did! This humble, quiet and most generous woman should be an inspiration to us all.
I happened across the most inspiring story from a few years back about a Surprise Millionaire from an impoverished background who spends his life helping others. It is the perfect example of someone who finds their true treasure in others rather than the balance in their bank account. If anyone has an update on this gentleman and what he is doing these days feel free to share below. Thanks!
Recently, I learned of Dorothy K. Merrill who left quite the surprise for the folks in her St. Paul Minnesota community of Woodbury. Not known to be particulary interested in the arts, Dorothy surprisingly became a significant donor (to the tune of $2 million ) toward the building of a community arts center in Woodbury. Dorothy, who passed away in 2009, was reported to be both frugal and a savy investor. These twin attributes set her apart from her peers.
Dorothy who was known to be a master seamstress, accomplished baker and skilled card player in her lifetime can now have philanthropist added to that list of accomplishments. And we have the privilege of adding another well-rounded, interesting and giving person to our Surprise Millionaire family.
This retired nurse with a big heart wowed her central Iowa community with very generous gifts disbursed to many area organizations. She left a gift of $130,165 to a local school district which was only a small portion of her wealth. She additionally, left substantial funds to a local Fire Department, a Senior Citizen Center and a local college . Her gifts were a true work of “heart” for her community.
A little technical college in Milwaukee received a surprising gift a few years ago that has been assisting students with the cost of schooling ever since. And to think, all of this from a little old lady who took some sewing and painting classes at the college after her retirement. Another Surprise Millionaire has left their legacy and made their mark on the local community!