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!
I think we can all agree that when stress takes it’s toll on our lives it is nice to have a place to recharge our batteries. For many of us a long walk in nature where we can quietly pray or contemplate is the perfect therapy. This was certainly the case for today’s Surprise Millionaire John Repetski.
The retired western New York auto worker walked the grounds of his assisted living apartment complex every day that weather allowed. So it was only natural that part of his nearly $3 million estate was used to widen and extend the existing “friendship path” at his senior living facility to give access to more residents.
Read more about Mr. Repetski here
The long time Newcomb New York business owner loved his community. In fact, his family had been an integral part of the community since its early beginnings. So it was no surprise that this generous man left a legacy that would be used to preserve Newcomb’s history and legacy for generations to come.
We have often spoke of the surprise many people have upon finding out that a quiet unassuming friend or neighbor has amassed a fortune. But what a double shock it would be to find out that those same quiet unassuming people were not only millionaires but also well-known insiders in the hip and avant garde New York City art world!
That’s right, Art was the investment vehicle they used to make millions while also giving them an amazing social life along the way. And this from a man who never earned more than $23,000 a year!
Take a tour of the Vogel Collection and learn about the amazing lives of Herbert and Dorothy Vogel.
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.
During 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!
It can be hard to go your own way when your family is known for a certain profession or is affiliated with a certain company or industry. However, the rewards of following your passion can far outweigh the risks.
Professor Richard Shineman new the risks and also the rewards of this decision. He went his own way, followed his passion and long outlasted the company his family was known for. And with hard work and frugal living was able to make his world a better place.
I came across an article about a quiet man in Baldwinsville New York who left an estate of $750,000 to local charities for the benefit of his community. This man has become my new hero; not for the wealth he accumulated or what he left for charity (which are wonderful things), but for how he lived his life.
The article goes into a lot of detail about this gentleman’s life story but I believe it can best be summed up by this quote from a neighbor and friend:
“He kept his place very, very neat.” said John Kerniski, Ryder’s friend and neighbor since the early 1970s. “His house and storage barn were methodically organized. And he was always well-dressed and well-mannered. I think he took pride in being well-presented.”
And there it is; a man who took pride in his home and property treated people with respect and strove to be well-presented in everything he did. If we all tried to live in this way I am sure that the world would be a much kinder and saner place!