BRATTLEBORO, Vt. (AP) - A man who sometimes held his coat together with safety pins and had a long-time habit of foraging for firewood also had a knack for picking stocks - a talent that became public after his death when he bequeathed $6 million to his local library and hospital.
investments made by Ronald Read, a former gas station employee and
janitor who died in June at age 92, "grew substantially" over the years,
said his attorney Laurie Rowell.
Read, who was known for his flannel shirt and baseball cap, gave no hint of the size of his fortune.
was unbelievably frugal," Rowell said Wednesday. When Read visited her
office, "sometimes he parked so far away so he wouldn't have to pay the
The bequest of $4.8 million to the Brattleboro
Memorial Hospital and $1.2 million to the town's Brooks Memorial Library
were the largest each institution has ever received. Read also made a
number of smaller bequests.
"It's pretty incredible. This
is not something that happens on a regular basis," said the hospital's
development director, Gina Pattison.
Stepson Phillip Brown, of Somersworth, New Hampshire, told the
Brattleboro Reformer he visited Read every few months, more often as
Read's health declined. The only indication Brown had of Read's
investments was his regular reading of the Wall Street Journal.
was tremendously surprised," Brown said of Read's hidden wealth. "He
was a hard worker, but I don't think anybody had an idea that he was a
Most of Read's investments were found in a safe deposit box, Read's
attorney, Laurie Rowell, told CNBC. Those investments included AT&T, Bank of America, CVS, Deere, GE and General Motors.
"He only invested in what he knew and what paid dividends. That was important to him," she said in an interview with "Closing Bell."
Financial expert Chris Hogan, a strategist with Ramsey Solutions,
applauded Read's diligence and believes others can follow his example.
"It's a matter of living a certain way, keeping your lifestyle under control and being committed," he said.