He gave it all back to the community

 “He gave it all back to the community.”

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.

 

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.

Ordinary People, Extraordinary Wealth!

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Today’s Surprise Millionaire typifies the very meaning of our saying, “ordinary people, extraordinary wealth”.  A woman who inherited a tidy sum but refused to let it change her lifestyle.  On the contrary, through saving and frugality that “tidy sum” eventually grew into a  wonderful legacy for her community.

See the video here

KREM2 NEWS SPOKANE, Wash. – Helen Stowell lived a simple life in West Central Spokane.

“Very simple. She was modest, unassuming. She drove an old Subaru. She gardened, pulled weeds. She walked the neighborhood with her neighbors,” said neighbor Linda Hawkins. “I’ve known her for 20 years. We used to exchange vegetables. She had her tomatoes and I had my squash.”

Stowell’s family first came to the Inland Northwest before the turn of the 20th century. Her grandfather opened a successful drugstore on Sprague Avenue.

Stowell did not know it, but her grandfather’s success would eventually supply her wealth.

“In the early 90’s, she became a multiple millionaire and really unknown to her that she had come into that kind of wealth,” said Mark Hurtuise, Inland Northwest Community Foundation CEO.

Following her passing, Stowell left $3 million to the Inland Northwest Community Foundation, a non-profit that awards grants and scholarships throughout the region.

A woman who lived simply her whole life suddenly donated millions of dollars; something that shocked her neighbors.

“It’s amazing. You never know about people. She didn’t need it, she kept it. She just used what she needed,” said Hawkins.

Stowell’s gift brought the INCWF over the $100 million mark.

“The byproduct of that is, it’s going to attract businesses to the community. It’s going to get other very wealthy people to start to think ‘Maybe I should leave what I have visa vi the Community Foundation to benefit the community,’” said Hurtuise.

Stowell’s choice to live a simple life will impact thousands.

“She didn’t use her resources, that kind of wealth, just to live a life of extravagance. The purity and honesty of her philanthropy was for the community and that’s really what’s to be celebrated here,” said Hurtuise.

Stowell’s donation has been placed in a fund benefiting animals, wildlife and the environment.