There has been a flurry of news reports coming from the Pacific Northwest over the past few months regarding donations made from a multi-millionaire’s estate. Organizations
ranging from local museums to state parkshave received assistance from a trust set up by millionaire Elizabeth ‘Bette’ Ruth Wallace.
So who was this Bette Wallace? Was she some high society grand dame looking to leave her mark through philanthropy? Or maybe a high powered executive who had earned top dollar during her career? No, Bette was neither of those things but was still pretty grand none the less.
Bette and her husband Bryan were the owners of a small drug store that they worked very hard to make a success. Through that hard work, the Wallaces were able to grow a little nest egg. After Bryan’s passing, Bette took that little nest egg and invested in several rental properties in a northern California area to bring in some income. It just so happened that in the years that followed, that particular northern California area, the one where Bette had her little rental properties, would go on to be renamed Silicon Valley! Much to her ‘surprise’, Bette had become a ‘Surprise Real Estate Mogul’.
However despite this financial windfall, Bette never lived extravagantly and always stayed just the same person she had always been. It was this ‘surprise’ real estate empire which allowed Bette to leave such a wonderful legacy to the communities in which she had called home. It seems Bette found the right ‘prescription’ for success.
As I have done in the past, I have the unfortunate task of profiling a Surprise Millionaire who met with foul play because they didn’t have the appropriate precautions in place to keep their wealth a secret. A Columbus Ohio property ownerand landlady made it a habit to deal only in cash when collecting rent and kept a large sum of that money on her person at all times. Unfortunately, this was a situation that an acquaintance sought to take advantage of. The resulting robbery ended with the demise of this much-loved lady. Though she is no longer with us, it is my hope her story will be a word of caution to all of you potential Surprise Millionaires out there. Remember, it is best to keep your wealth a closely guarded secret known only to your closest confidants. Living a low-key lifestyle could actually be the “key” to safety.
No one would mistake today’s Surprise Millionaire, Steve Brewster, for a wealthy business tycoon. However his store, the Sportman’s Chalet, was a popular fixture in the Bellingham Washington community for over 30 years. Unfortunately, Steve found it necessary to sell his business in 2001 due to a significant life change. Diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS) around that time, Steve had to focus all of his energy on living with and managing his disease. Which is just what he did for the next two decades. Tragically, Steve lost his battle with MS in 2017 leaving the community he loved behind.
Surely a man who had been battling a progressive disease which was both physically and financially draining would have nothing left to leave the community he loved, right? Wrong, even with the costs of managing his MS, Steve was still able to accumulate $1 million over the course of his life. Take a look at how Steve’s generous gift is helping his community.
Meet Dr. Mary Stauffer; medical pioneer, philanthropist, centenarian and (not so surprise) millionaire. Dr. Stauffer marked her 100th birthday last year doing what she does best, giving back to her community. This is one inspiring lady!
We are often fond of saying here at The Surprise Millionaires that, “anyone can accumulate wealth”. I have observed this to be true time and time again even for people who live in the most humble of circumstances. That is why this gentlemanand his story really touched me. The very fact that he was able to accumulate so much based on his meager income is completely amazing. However, it is nothing compared to the amazingness of his giving heart. This just goes to show that if you have a goal worth pursuing and the frugalness to live well below your means that anyone can truly accumulate wealth!
There are few people who have not heard of billionaire and financial wizard Warren Buffett. Mr. Buffett’s name is almost synonymous with wealth accumulation and american entrepreneurship. It can also be said that he put his hometown of Omaha Nebraska on the map.
But did you know that Omaha is home to another billionaire? This quiet and humble man has been making a difference in the local community for years, but few know his name.
Meet retired construction executive and local philanthropist Walter Scott and prepare to be inspired: