A man from New Hampshire who died this year had a secret life savings worth $3.8 million (P211 million) that he donated to his community of 4,200 people.
The Associated Press reported that Geoffrey Holt died in June at 82 years old. He was a caretaker of a mobile home park in the village of Hinsdale, where he lived a simple life.
He drove a bicycle and a mower instead of a car, though he taught driver’s education to high schoolers.
Holt’s mobile home also had no television or computer and was mostly empty of furniture.
But according to his will, he had $3.8 million, which he wanted to give to the town “to benefit the community in the areas of education, health, recreation, and culture.” Holt had no children.
Steve Diorio, the town’s select board chairman who’d occasionally wave at Holt from his car, described the money as “a tremendous gift.”
“I don’t think anyone had any idea that he was that successful,” Diorio told AP. “I know he didn’t have a whole lot of family, but nonetheless, to leave it to the town where he lived in... it's a tremendous gift.”
Holt served in the U.S. Navy and had a master’s degree. He briefly taught social studies before working as a production manager at a grain mill. At the time, Holt already started investing his money and studying financial publications, AP reported.
Alison, Holt’s 81-year-old sister, said he didn’t need a lot to be happy and didn’t want to draw attention to himself. Alison said he once declined a promotion at the grain mill that would have required him to relocate.
“He always told me that his main goal in life was to make sure that nobody noticed anything,” Alison told AP, adding that he’d say “or you might get into trouble.”
Alison remembered their father, a “strict and frugal” literature teacher, and his influence on Holt. She said she knew Holt had an investment and wasn’t wasting money knowing how important they were to their father.
Their parents also had a vegetable garden, kept the thermostat low, and accepted donated clothes for their children from a friend.
Local officials have no plans yet about his fortune, but residents proposed upgrading the town hall clock, restoring buildings, and buying a new ballot counting machine in honor of Holt, who was a consistent voter.
Setting up an online driver’s education course is also being floated.
Town administrator Kathryn Lynch, meanwhile, told AP that Hinsdale will “utilize the money left very frugally as Mr. Holt did.”