The Little Store on The Corner

The little man at the corner store was a staple in his neighborhood for decades.  Always there with a friendly smile and a helpful attitude, you could almost take someone like that for granted.  However, we have learned here at the Surprise Millionaires that these are the exact type of people never to take for granted

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Ordinary People, Extraordinary Wealth!

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Today’s Surprise Millionaire typifies the very meaning of our saying, “ordinary people, extraordinary wealth”.  A woman who inherited a tidy sum but refused to let it change her lifestyle.  On the contrary, through saving and frugality that “tidy sum” eventually grew into a  wonderful legacy for her community.

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KREM2 NEWS SPOKANE, Wash. – Helen Stowell lived a simple life in West Central Spokane.

“Very simple. She was modest, unassuming. She drove an old Subaru. She gardened, pulled weeds. She walked the neighborhood with her neighbors,” said neighbor Linda Hawkins. “I’ve known her for 20 years. We used to exchange vegetables. She had her tomatoes and I had my squash.”

Stowell’s family first came to the Inland Northwest before the turn of the 20th century. Her grandfather opened a successful drugstore on Sprague Avenue.

Stowell did not know it, but her grandfather’s success would eventually supply her wealth.

“In the early 90’s, she became a multiple millionaire and really unknown to her that she had come into that kind of wealth,” said Mark Hurtuise, Inland Northwest Community Foundation CEO.

Following her passing, Stowell left $3 million to the Inland Northwest Community Foundation, a non-profit that awards grants and scholarships throughout the region.

A woman who lived simply her whole life suddenly donated millions of dollars; something that shocked her neighbors.

“It’s amazing. You never know about people. She didn’t need it, she kept it. She just used what she needed,” said Hawkins.

Stowell’s gift brought the INCWF over the $100 million mark.

“The byproduct of that is, it’s going to attract businesses to the community. It’s going to get other very wealthy people to start to think ‘Maybe I should leave what I have visa vi the Community Foundation to benefit the community,’” said Hurtuise.

Stowell’s choice to live a simple life will impact thousands.

“She didn’t use her resources, that kind of wealth, just to live a life of extravagance. The purity and honesty of her philanthropy was for the community and that’s really what’s to be celebrated here,” said Hurtuise.

Stowell’s donation has been placed in a fund benefiting animals, wildlife and the environment.

 

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!

 

For the Love of Reading

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Someone once said that through the love of reading you can travel the world and be anyone you want to be without ever having to leave the comfort of your armchair.  And if you are the frugal sort like Alice Jumper, it is a whole lot less expensive as well!  In fact, through her love of reading, Alice was able to accumulate a $1 million portfolio that will be benefiting Central Michigan University and its Library well into the future.

Let’s Spread That Wealth Around A Little

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st. marysA Surprise Millionaire in Georgia thought he was doing a wonderful thing by leaving his local church a staggering bequest of $60,000,000; his entire life’s savings.  However, the momentous event seemed to be more of a burden for the small congregation instead of a blessing.  Where to use the money and how to use the money  were decisions left up to the congregation with no direction from their benefactor.  For a house of faith who wanted to remain just that, a house of the faithful; this posed some major concerns.

Would greed rear its ugly head, would they make the right decisions regarding the use of the money when there were literally thousands of worthy causes and organizations that could benefit?   These concerns were turning what was meant to be a wonderful thing in to a major stressor for the church and its congregation.

This brings me to my point for all of you potential Surprise Millionaires out there.   When determining who you will leave your wealth to, it is best to divide that wealth between several organizations, individuals and worthy causes rather than placing the entire estate and all of the pressures it may bring on one entity.  Secondly, please either stipulate or at least suggest what you would like the funds to be used for.

A little planning on your part could save some very grateful, but conflicted people a little angst in the future.