There are funny ways in which Lady Luck works; she can be as loving as she can be scornful and worse part, she is fickle. The millions of rags to riches stories we read every day are proof of this.
But what is rare is people, spending their good fortune not on themselves, but for others. This is simply because people with fortunes forget that there are people in need other than themselves.
Russ Gremel is one of those rare people who managed to go beyond the self when it came to his millions. And apparently, he was always this way. Russ is 98 years old, the most cheerful and happy old man there can be. He has a secret: He is really rich.
His brother had quite a few years ago, made him buy shares of Walgreens, worth a measly $1000. They figured that people would always need medicines and make-up.
That was 70 years ago.
But today, the market evaluation stands at nearly $2 million. Yes, heard that right. However, Russ lived his life as usual. It made no difference to him. He didn’t even cash the shares out.
Instead, he did something unbelievable. He donated the entire sum to Illinois Audobon Society, which is using it to establish a nearly 400-acre wildlife reserve near Dixon and Amboy.
What’s better? They are naming it after him, today.
Russ has been living in the same brick bungalow for nearly 95 years now. And he made it obvious that he did not need that kind of money for himself. He is a self-proclaimed “simple man” who preferred stew and oatmeal to fancy foods. And he never got married nor started a family that he had to support. Even his last car was a twenty-five-year-old Dodge Omni.
The house that he lives in, he has been living in since he was four years old. He says it’s still the quiet neighborhood it used to be sans the street lighters and horses.
Every single person who knows Russ says the donation is anything but surprising. He was always one with an open heart and giving spirit.
Dr. Steven Bujewski, a lifelong friend and scout trained under Russ, says however that his biggest achievement is having touched the lives of so many children through his scouts’ training.
Travelling was always a passion for Mr. Gremel and besides hiking throughout his teens, he also served at different places, including Hawaii.
Hence the donation falls into perspective.
“You have to do some good in this world. That’s what the money is for”, said the 98-year-old.