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.
This week’s Surprise Millionaire is a quiet, retired teacher in Glasgow Scotland. When Grahame Pincock age 90 passed away in 2017, his friends and neighbors were shocked to learn that the unassuming bachelor had secretly amassed a seven million pound estate through thriftiness and investing. Mr. Pincock chose to bless his community by leaving hundreds of thousands to cancer charities as well as setting up a separate trust to help those in need.
Have you ever thought about what people might say about you after you are gone? Probably not. It’s not a topic that most of us would like to dwell on. But if I ever were to dwell on it, I would like for it to be something like the beautiful tribute the sister of Surprise Millionaire Evelyn Haley made to her. Evelyn appears to have been a very interesting lady who lived a full life. As you might have guessed, she was quite thrifty too. I guess that would explain the $3 million estate she left to benefit her community!
I just stumbled across a video concerning one of the original Surprise Millionaire’s I profiled in my book, Mr. Ronald Read. It appears some financial professionals were discussing just how Mr. Read, a one-time janitor, amassed his multi-million dollar portfolio. If you would like to verify that the Surprise Millionaire lifestyle of living below your means and investing wisely is the key to success, just listen to what these experts are saying:
Recently, I learned of Dorothy K. Merrill who left quite the surprise for the folks in her St. Paul Minnesota community of Woodbury. Not known to be particulary interested in the arts, Dorothy surprisingly became a significant donor (to the tune of $2 million ) toward the building of a community arts center in Woodbury. Dorothy, who passed away in 2009, was reported to be both frugal and a savy investor. These twin attributes set her apart from her peers.
Dorothy who was known to be a master seamstress, accomplished baker and skilled card player in her lifetime can now have philanthropist added to that list of accomplishments. And we have the privilege of adding another well-rounded, interesting and giving person to our Surprise Millionaire family.