Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Ronald Read, a WW2 vet who served in Africa, Europe, and the Pacific... then was a gas station mechanic until retiring, bequeathed 6 million dollars to his favorite library and hospital

Read, the first person in his family to graduate from high school, dressed in worn flannel shirts and spent his free time scavenging for fallen branches for his home wood stove. He drove a second-hand Toyota Yaris.

Read graduated from Brattleboro High School in 1940 and during World War II served in North Africa, Italy and the Pacific theater in the U.S. Army's Military Police Company. He was honorably discharged from active service at the rank of Technician Fifth Grade on December 21, 1945.

 Returning home, he worked at Haviland's service station and then as a janitor at a JCPenney store, marrying a woman with two children.

"You'd never know the man was a millionaire," Rowell said. "The last time he came here, he parked far away in a spot where there were no meters so he could save the coins."

Before his death on June 2, 2014, Read's only indulgence was eating breakfast at the local coffee shop, where he once tried to pay his bill only to find that someone had already covered it under the assumption he did not have the means, Rowell said.

Last week, Brooks Memorial Library and Brattleboro Memorial Hospital each received their largest bequests ever. Read left $1.2 million to the library, founded in 1886, and $4.8 million to the hospital, founded in 1904.

The president of the Board of Trustees for the Brooks Memorial Library said in a release he was delighted by the news and said Read's donation was the largest bequest since that of George J. Brooks in 1886.

After World War II Read began working as a mechanic with his brother until 1979.

In his safety deposit box were dividend producing stock and bond certificates worth about 8 million.
In addition to his charitable donations, Read also gave a portion of his fortune to a couple of stepchildren and friends.

Read left the Dummerston Historical Society with an antique Edison phonograph along with dozens of recording drums.

Financial expert Chris Hogan, a strategist with Ramsey Solutions, applauded Read's diligence and believes others can follow his example.

For example, to reach Read's $8 million fortune, Hogan calculated that investors would have to invest about $300 a month at an 8 percent interest rate over 65 years.


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