A frugal man in Vermont, known to hold his coat together with safety pins and forage for firewood, bequeathed a surprise fortune to his local library and hospital after his death.
Ronald Read, a former gas station attendant and janitor who died in June 2014 at the age of 92, had a knack for picking good investments and grew his fortune in secret over years, never giving any hint of what he was worth, according to ABC News.
Read’s donations of $4.8 million to the Brattleboro Memorial Hospital and $1.2 million to the Brooks Memorial Library were the largest donations the institutions had ever received. Read also made several smaller bequests, including an antique Edison phonograph and dozens of recording drums that he left to the Dummerston Historical Society.
Read’s stepson, Phillip Brown, said he visited Read every few months but had no idea of his wealth. He said the only indication of Read’s investments was the fact that he read the Wall Street Journal regularly.
[quote text_size=”small” author=”– Phillip Brown” author_title=”Read’s stepson”]
I was tremendously surprised. He was a hard worker, but I don’t think anybody had an idea that he was a multimillionaire.
Read was the first person in his family to graduate high school. He often dressed in worn flannel shirts and scavenged for fallen branches to heat his home, and he drove a second-hand Toyota Yaris. Read graduated from Brattleboro High School in 1940 and served in the military during World War II. He returned to Brattleboro, Vermont and worked at a service station for 25 years and as a janitor for 17 years, according to Reuters.
Read married a woman he met at the service station in 1960. She passed away in 1970, and he never remarried, according to the Chicago Tribune.