A Cautionary Tale

This story  of a Surprise Millionaire in Omaha is a cautionary tale about keeping your perspective.   Being frugal and building wealth to provide for a comfortable retirement or to help others is a wonderful thing.  However, when that wealth isolates you from the rest of the world it is time to reevaluate your priorities…


The Surprise Millionaire Who Encouraged His Family To Say “Yes”

In my book, I wrote about Albert Ravenholt, a poor Wisconsin farm boy who started out life with nothing until he said “yes” to opportunity.  As we learned, Albert and his wife Marjorie lived what only can be described as an interesting and fulfilling life just by embracing the opportunities that came their way.

As Albert was aging and found himself a widower, he began to reflect on his large extended Wisconsin farm family and how distant they had all become.  He and Marjorie had no children of their own and Albert cared deeply for his 25 nieces and nephews scattered about the country. However, Albert realized that his large family rarely got together anymore and many of them were virtual strangers to one another.  This is when Albert decided that it was time for his family to say “yes” to opportunity in the same way that he had so many years ago.

Upon Albert’s death in 2010, his family learned that his trust contained a very unusual codicil.  He had indeed left money for all of his nieces and nephews provided they meet for a family reunion once every two years.  That’s right, Albert gave his family a two-fold opportunity.  The opportunity to inherit a part of his estate (remember, Albert was a Surprise Millionaire) and the opportunity to get to know or become re-acquainted with extended family.

Since Albert’s passing, the extended Ravenholt clan has gotten together back in little Luck Wisconsin, the site of the family’s most unluckiest event to celebrate the life and times of Uncle Albert Ravenholt; the loving and generous man who cared enough to give them the chance to say “yes” to a great opportunity.

The family and their story

Taking a look at the “Surprise Millionaires”

I plan to take a look at the lives of these remarkable people; hopefully to determine just what makes them tick.  I hope you will come along with me.  Let’s find out just what drove them to save and accumulate vast amounts of wealth.  Will we find similarities regarding motivation, personality and background?  Or, will we discover that each and every one of our surprise millionaires was an “American Original”.  Okay, let’s dive right in and take a look at one of our surprise millionaires.  A very unassuming woman by the name of Grace Groner.

So who are these “Surprise Millionaires”?

We occasionally hear about them in the news.  People who live unassuming ordinary lives yet have accumulated vast amounts of wealth; often with little means of doing so.  These folks are often described as “old misers” or “quite odd” by the news media.  However, every once in a while someone bothers to look below the surface to discover the interesting and often times amazing people who we will call the Surprise Millionaires.

Even when the media does a decent job of reporting on these individuals, the stories can still be confusing and just a little bit bewildering.  Their actions seem to conflict with our traditional American values.  After all, conspicuous consumption and being upwardly mobile is the “American way”.

So we scratch our heads wondering, “If they had all that money, why didn’t they spend some of it?  If they could have improved their station in life, why didn’t they?”