Do you know that feeling you get when you find a PHP20 or a PHP100 bill you didn’t even know you lost in an old pair of pants? The same occurrence happened to a 98-year-old man from Illinois, but the thing is, he didn’t find it in his old pair of pants and it definitely wasn’t a PHP100 bill. It was stock shares worth up to 2 million dollars he bought 70 years ago.
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Russell “Russ” Gremel spent his entire life in the same house in Chicago, Illinois. He lived a normal life with just enough money to survive. Years ago, his dad gave the stock market a try, only to lose all his investments after the market crashed. His family had to ask help from their neighbors because they couldn’t afford to buy food. It was a difficult time for them and ever since, he was always careful with his money; only spending it on stuff he actually needed.
Growing up, Russ had always loved the outdoors. Spending his teenage years embracing the world, he’d go hiking and solo camping trips. He explored the country and soaked in every new experience he could. He hitchhiked, trekked and train-hopped everywhere. He experienced snow while in Yellowstone National Park and had an amazing time. He enlisted in the army during World War II. After that, he entered the boy scouts for several decades, helping young men appreciate the natural world. He retired at 45 years old.
70 years ago, his brother convinced him to try his hand in the stock market. Russ was hesitant, but then decided to give it a try. He invested $1000 in a Walgreens stock.
Lucky Russell then received amazing news. His shares were now worth $2 million. Stunned, Russ got to thinking as to how he would spend this huge amount of cash. Being the humble person he was, he thought of something that not a lot of new millionaires would do.
Russ went to the Illinois Audubon Society, offering all of his stock money to fund a wildlife sanctuary. The NGO society was grateful for the money Russ donated; as they were initially planning to purchase a 395-acre land for quite some time but couldn’t afford it. They eventually pushed through with their plans and named it the Gremel Wildlife Sanctuary in Russ’s honor.
The sanctuary became a home to a huge number of animals – including rare turtles and 170 types of birds. Everything about the sanctuary was natural, giving the people a feel of how Illinois was before it was developed.
Having donated his money for a worthy cause, Russ was happier than ever.
“You have to do some good in this world,” Russ said. “That’s what money is for.” He added that, even without the money, he managed to have “one hell of a good life.” The world sure could use more acts of generosity like his!
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Russell Gremel died at the age of 99 last April 22, 2018. Despite him being gone, he will surely be remembered for his generosity and his humble contribution.