It seems the island nation of Singapore is now experiencing the Surprise Millionaire phenomenon. Loh Kum Mow, a local sub-accountant (i.e. junior accountant) passed away in 2016 at the age of 89. Coming from humble beginnings, this gentleman made his way in the world grasping every opportunity that came his way. By combining those opportunities with some super saving and investing, not to mention frugality, Mr. Loh managed to accumulate quite a nest egg throughout his life. So much so that his friends and loved ones were shocked to learn that this quiet, unassuming man had amassed a $20 million estate! However, Mr. Loh’s wealth accumulation skills could not outshine his giving. In addition to assisting family members throughout his life, Mr. Loh also left millions to charity. What a great tribute to a hard-working gentleman who lived an exemplary life!
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One of the most rewarding things I have found while profiling Surprise Millionaires from around the world is discovering the unique characters that make up this special group of people. Today’s Surprise Millionaire is certainly no exception. From traveling the world on a budget to finding and donating extremely rare and unique books to his university’s library, Richard Lee Merritt certainly lived his life to the fullest (quite frugally of course). He and his wife never made large salaries but were still able to buy and rehab many properties in the San Francisco area (long before today’s premium prices!) and had a lot of fun doing it. This real estate formed the foundation of the multi-million dollar estate the Merritts left behind. This included the $2 million donation to the Maureen and Mike Mansfield Library at the University of Montana, Richard’s alma mater and the recipient of all of those rare books over the years. This was the largest bequest ever received by the library. Taking both the bequest and the book donations into consideration, Richard had donated roughly $3 million to the library over his lifetime! Quite an accomplishment I would say.
According to his family, Vietnam War vet Steven Williams lived the frugal life of a bachelor. Fond of golf, travel and investing, Steve worked for the same company for over 30 years saving and investing all the while.
Like most servicemen involved in the Vietnam conflict, Steve did not receive the homecoming afforded to veterans of previous wars. However, all that has now changed.
Upon Steve’s passing in 2018, the Minnesota Veterans Home was thrilled to receive a nearly $3 million bequest from Steve’s $14 million estate!
Thanks to Steve’s generosity, countless Veterans will be afforded the care they so rightly deserve. The Gov. of Minnesota must have been impressed as well. So much so that he declared a specific “Steve Williams Day” in honor of the gift. Thankfully, this soldier and Surprise Millionaire finally received the recognition he so greatly deserved.