An Immeasurable Legacy

 

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Here at the Surprise Millionaires, we often report on an individual who has recently passed indicating that their bequests will result in a lasting legacy.  Today, we have the opportunity to see that legacy come to its fruition.

This past January, the final sum of Surprise Millionaire John A. Johnson’s twenty year trust was delivered to the Salvation Army of Chautauqua County, New York.  Mr. Johnson, a quiet and frugal Swedish immigrant, had left an estate worth $7 million back in 1996 to the people of Chautauqua County and specifically to his hometown of Jamestown.

Mr. Johnson had been a factory worker and carpenter throughout his life and was also a shrewd investor.  He was known to be a follower of the “buy and hold” strategy.   Once he bought a stock, he never sold.  That strategy certainly paid off for him!

For the past twenty years Mr. Johnson’s millions have stayed right in the community he loved and benefited the human services programs administered by the Salvation Army.  The ripple effect of Mr. Johnson’s legacy cannot be measured!  What a blessing he was to his community!

 

Changing The World

“..individuals who put a few words in their wills and change the world.”

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I recently came across an article involving a Surprise Millionaire I profiled a while back.  What struck me about the article was the profound statement made by the community director of the foundation that received the bulk of the estate:

“The largest gifts (to the foundation) usually come from good people who lived quietly in service to family, church, and community,” Holmes said. “More and more the foundation is receiving large gifts from individuals who put a few words in their wills and change the world.”

This is true of every Surprise Millionaire that we profile on this blog.  A few simple lines in a will causes a chain reaction that reverberates through peoples’ lives sometimes for generations.  Whether it is fighting poverty, preserving history or protecting the disadvantaged, our Surprise Millionaires make a real impact on their communities and by extension, the world.  What a wonderful way to live your life!

The Hometown Hero

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This hometown hero and Surprise Millionaire astounded his small Iowa communityIowa Millionaire by leaving them his entire estate totaling $5.7 million!  The only stipulation the local clothier made was that the funds be used to improve and beautify the slowly fading town.   And what do you suppose they chose as the first project for their significant windfall?  How about building the world’s biggest popcorn ball!

 

The Surprise Hero AND Millionaire

A decorated army helicopter medic who served his country well left his adopted community quite a gift earlier this summer.   The Central Oklahoma Habitat for Humanity will be putting Stephen M. Florentz’ $2.25 million gift to good use.

This gentleman who grew up in the tenements of New York City bought his first home when moving to Oklahoma and never forgot the pride that home ownership brought him.  He wanted to pass that feeling along to others.

Florentz BookDuring my research of this amazing hero and Surprise Millionaire, I found a piece of information that others had overlooked.  He was a published author as well!