The Secret Stock Market Genius: How a Janitor Earned $8 Million and No One Knew About It
Coming from a humble background and frugal lifestyle, a former janitor from Vermont named Ronald Read had lived quite a simple life – his house was far from grand and his vehicle was a secondhand 2007 Toyota Yaris that he also used to carry woods he had chopped as his pastime.
With his life far from the glamour and glitter we usually read every day, what made him worthy of a headline? Unknown to all, even to his family, the man had earned millions from investing in stocks, making him the new face of achieving the American dream even with a modest salary.
A true Vermont native, Read was born in the little town of Dummerston in 1921. He was the first in his family to graduate high school, but soon after, he was tapped by the military to render his service during World War II where he was assigned to North Africa, Italy, and the Pacific. In 1945, he finally came back home and started working as an attendant in a gas station where he would continue to work for in the next 25 years.
He then realized that retirement was not for him, which led him to take a janitorial job in J.C. Penney, where worked for another 10 years, retiring in 1997. Even though Read had unpretentious jobs, according to his stepson Phillip Brown, he was a hard worker but far from a pictured millionaire.
His prudent lifestyle, evident in his worn-in clothes and use of safety pins to mend his coat, had touched the hearts of his neighbors, who sometimes assumed that this secret multimillionaire was homeless. One time, a neighbor even knitted him a winter hat to help him during the harsh cold weather in the state.
Few Known Interests
According to people around him, Read was a quiet man with only a few known interests — one of which was looking for fallen trees he could chop and sell as firewood in the park. During the latter years of his life, he had become a regular in Brattleboro Memorial Hospital, not because of his declining health, but for their breakfast.
Aside from this, he also had the habit of going to the Brooks Memorial Library where he would spend his time reading on different subjects. He also religiously read The Wall Street Journal, which could be the giveaway that he secretly amassed $8 million from stocks.
Giving Back to His Favorite Places
Before his death in June 2014, the former janitor owned 95 stocks from different companies such as Procter & Gamble, J.P. Morgan & Chase, General Electric, AT&T, and CVS. According to his lawyer Laurie Rowell, the secret stock market genius only invested in companies he knew and paid in dividends and also held on to his stocks for many years, if not, decades.
Of this $8 million, his will states that $4.8 million will be donated to his favorite breakfast place, Brattleboro Hospital, which would help in improving the building’s infrastructure and modernization projects.
He also donated $1.2 million to the Brooks Library, helping them extend reading hours and recondition the 50-year-old infrastructure. They also invested a chunk of the donation to help them in the future. Who knew a man with only a few words and humble beginnings would be the talk of the town and have a fortune that could save lots of people?
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