98-Year-Old Donates His Secret $2 Million Fortune to Build a Wildlife Preserve

posted: 06/14/17
by: Blythe Copeland
98-Year-Old Donates His Secret $2 Million Fortune to Build a Wildlife Preserve

Plenty of people dream about how they'd spend their money if they were millionaires -- but donating every cent to a favorite charity isn't usually the plan. Russ Gremel, a 98-year-old from Chicago, is different: He donated an entire fortune -- $2 million -- to the Illinois Audubon Society to establish a wildlife sanctuary.

Gremel made his millions on a lucky stock market pick, investing in Walgreens almost 70 years ago. But even as the worth of the shares grew, Gremel never cashed out, and he never lived like a millionaire. "I'm a very simple man," he told the Chicago Tribune. "I never let anybody know I had that kind of money."

Gremel still lives in the same house where he grew up, eats oatmeal and stew instead of "fancy foods," and remains influenced by the 1929 stock market crash. "We went from comparable wealth to abject poverty in 24 hours," he says. "We had no money. There were no food stamps. There was nothing except your friends and neighbors."

A lifelong love of nature, hiking, and camping inspired Gremel to donate his shares of Walgreens stock to the Audubon Society, which has used a portion of them to purchase a 400-acre plot to be known as the Gremel Wildlife Sanctuary. "Why not give it to them now, when...I have the pleasure and enjoyment of seeing it," Gremel thought, according to the Tribune. "You have to do some good in this world. That's what money is for."

Via TreeHugger