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Thursday, 8 April 2010

Grace Groner, Aged 100, Bequeaths $7 Million To Alma Mater

Here in Malaysia, charitable bequeaths are seldom heard of. Of course, there are odd cases of rich millionaires who institute profects for the welfare of the poor, but by and large, it seems that the income disparity of this great nation has not allowed for the ordinary man to amass great wealth.

In Illinois, a frugal, ordinary and unexciting 100 year old woman named Grace Groner passed away, and suddenly rose to fame. In death, her name was thrust into the spotlight as a "secret millionaire" who donated about $7 million to her alma mater, Illinois college.

Curious readers can watch the ABC News report about Grace Groner HERE.

Here are a few excerpts from major newspapers which carried the story.

  1. The Telegraph Herald, 7th March 2010. Frugal woman leaves $7 million to Illinois college.
    Grace Groner lived a frugal life in a one-bedroom home in a Chicago suburb.
    But when she died at age 100 in January, her attorney informed Lake Forest College that Groner -- known for buying clothes from rummage sales and walking instead of buying a car -- had left her alma mater $7 million.

    ...

    The millions came from a $180 stock purchase Groner made in 1935.
  2. Huffington Post, 5th March 2010. Grace Groner's Gift: Lake Forest's Secret Millionaire Kept Fortune Quiet, Always Gave To Others.
    Groner worked as a secretary at Abbott Laboratories for 43 years--where she made a $180 stock purchase in 1935, the Chicago Tribune reports. She reinvested the dividends over the years, and at the time of her death--at the age of 100--it was worth $7 million.
  3. Chicago Tribune, 5th March 2010. Secret millionaire donates fortune to Lake Forest College.
    "She did not have the (material) needs that other people have," said William Marlatt, her attorney and longtime friend. "She could have lived in any house in Lake Forest but she chose not to. … She enjoyed other people, and every friend she had was a friend for who she was. They weren't friends for what she had."

    ...

    In 1935, she bought three $60 shares of specially issued Abbott stock and never sold them. The shares split many times over the next seven decades, Marlatt said, and Groner reinvested the dividends. Long before she died, her initial outlay had become a fortune.

    Marlatt was one of the few who knew about it. Lake Forest is one of America's richest towns, filled with grand estates and teeming with luxury cars, yet Groner felt no urge to keep up with the neighbors.
  4. Examiner, 5th March 2010. Amazing Grace: Grace Groner secretly donates $7 million dollars to alma mater.
    A giving heart appears to be one of Grace’s gifts. She volunteered for decades at the First Presbyterian Church in Lake Forest. She never wed or became a parent, but her passion for others appears strong. Before her death, Grace set up a small scholarship program at Lake Forest College to help students study abroad. She had already donated approximately $180,000 to that fund. Now there is an additional $7 million to fund that program. The modest house that Grace lived in for most of her life has also been left to the school. It will become student housing for women who receive scholarships and will be aptly called, “Grace’s College.”
  5. MSNBC, 5th March 2010. Secret millionaire gives fortune to alma mater.
    Grace Groner lived through the Great Depression, so saving money was her expertise.

The phrase "secret millionaire" seems to apply to people like Curt Degerman and Grace Groner!! Perhaps we can learn more from their lifestyles. They could easily afford a more "upscale" or "upmarket" lifestyle, but chose instead to live humble lifestyles. What humbling news!

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