A Surprise Millionaire In Her Own Words

I have had the pleasure of following Dave Ramsey and his organization for quite some time. Dave is well known for helping people get out of debt and also helping them to accumulate some wealth along the way.  He uses financial concepts found in biblical scripture as well as plain common sense to help people reach their financial goals.

One of Dave’s most popular segments from his podcast/radio show is the “Millionaire Theme Hour” in which regular folks who are currently millionaires call in and explain how they reached this milestone. During one of these segments I was happy to hear from a lady who we would describe as a Surprise Millionaire.  This particular lady related how she accumulated her wealth by living below her means and investing wisely.  It is a rare chance to hear a Surprise Millionaire in their own words so I couldn’t resist the opportunity to introduce “Terry from Denver” to my readers.  Enjoy!  

 

Never Stop Learning!

“Education is essential to everything we do. Never stop learning.”

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!

 

Anyone Can Accumulate Wealth!

“He became a supporter and advocate for the children he served..”

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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 gentleman and 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!

Cattle Rancher Leaves Millions

“Crosetto led a simple and      conservative life”

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William “Bill” Crosetto of Othello Washington was a cattle rancher and all around good citizen.  A life-long bachelor, Bill lived a quiet life on his cattle ranch outside of town where his work ethic was well-known.  He lived the “early to bed/early to rise” conservative lifestyle of a rancher while still finding time to drive his weathered pickup truck to the local cafe to shoot the breeze with a handful of good friends.

This is why everyone in Othello was shocked to learn that this quiet, unpretentious man was actually a self-made millionaire!  It turns out that Bill had amassed his wealth in cattle ranching but super-sized it by living frugally.

Unknown to most, Bill had been working with a local foundation to set up a multimillion dollar legacy for his community.  After Bill’s passing this past January, his secret was revealed to all.

Where did Bill’s philanthropic streak come from, you might ask?  Many believe he was inspired by a well-known uncle or two.  This is a family with  philanthropy in their DNA.

Whether inspired by his family or all on his own, Bill Crosetto has made a lasting contribution to the community he loved.

A Secret Gift From a Secret Fortune

“Few realized the reclusive old man had quietly amassed a fortune.”

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Don Slaughter was a man with a secret.  Known as a quiet man who kept to himself, Mr. Slaughter lived outside of his Oregon community in a 100 year old farmhouse built by his parents.  An able and capable woodsman, Don loved the simple life spending much of his time in the forest and lands surrounding his property.  However, what no one knew is that Don owned all of that said land and much much more.  You might actually call Mr. Slaughter a land baron of sorts.  And what he did with this secret wealth is truly heart-warming.

The Jet Set Millionaire

No, don’t let the title fool you.  The millionaire in question was not some corporate titan or Hollywood celebrity flying the friendly skies in first class.  Oh no, this millionaire was the flight attendant who served them!

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Read more about her legacy at the York County Community Foundation (YCCF).

What A Wonderful Life!

“Helen was one of the strongest ladies we have ever known, she did it her way!”

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We are all aging.  It is just a fact of life.  However, many people react to this fact by withdrawing from daily life thinking that they have nothing to contribute to the world.  This would never be said of today’s Surprise Millionaire Helen Yecny.  This northern California lady recently passed away at the ripe old age of 99 and with the accolades and praise heaped upon her, you would think she was a young vibrant person half her age!

Frugal to a fault and always saving for that “rainy day”, Helen was quite the character.  Content to live in the home and walnut orchard that she was born in, Helen could be seen most days tending to her yard and her orchard working to maintain the business that had supplemented she and her husband Lou’s income for decades.

However, don’t let it be said that Helen didn’t know how to enjoy life!  After Lou’s passing, Helen became quiet the traveler accompanying friends to such places as Alaska, Mexico, Hawaii and Europe.  She was also known for her quick wit and sense of humor which would liven up any conversation she was involved in.

Having not been blessed with children, Helen and Lou wanted to find a way to assist the children of the Central Valley region of California with obtaining a much-needed education.

This is why California State University, Stanislaus is the grateful recipient of $2.3 million from Helen’s estate.  The funds will be used to sponsor scholarships through the university’s undergraduate honors program.  But that’s not all, rumor has it that Helen left funds to some of the local high school districts as well.

I believe Helen’s obituary says it best, “Helen’s afterglow will be felt for generations to come.”  What a wonderful statement and what a wonderful life!