98-year-old Russ Gremel has led a simple life, with no one knowing he was a millionaire the entire time. Until recently, that is, when the elderly man donated 2 million dollars to the 395-acre Gremel Wildlife Sanctuary to protect wetlands in Amboy, Illinois – so people could come out and enjoy nature the way he did as a kid. “I’m a very simple man,” says Gremel. “I never let anybody know I had that kind of money.”
Gremel grew up poor as his family lost everything after the 1929 stock market crash, so the man learned how to be happy and content with whatever he had from the early days.
Around 70 years ago, Gremel bought $1,007 of stock in Walgreens pharmacy chain. His brother advised him that people would always need medicine and women would buy make up, so it was a wise investment – and boy was he right. Over the years, the Walgreens chain has exploded, and is now worth more than $62 billion, making Gremel’s stocks worth $2 million.
Gremel never touched that money throughout this life until his recent generous donation to protect nature. “You have to do some good in this world,” says Gremel. “That’s what money is for.” Besides, the man claims he’s already had a “hell of a good life” without all that money.