The Slatest

Frugal Service Station Worker Leaves $6 Million to Hospital, Library in Small Vermont Town

Downtown Brattleboro.

Brian S/Shutterstock

A nice feel-good story from Vermont: A 92-year-old man known to be very careful with money—so careful that one acquaintance knitted him a winter hat because she was worried he couldn’t afford one—left $6 million in what his attorney decribes as investment income to the town’s hospital and library when he died. The man, Ronald Read, was a high school graduate and World War II veteran who worked at JC Penney after retiring from his job at a service station. He died in June 2014; his story seems to be in the news because the court system has approved the disbursement of his gift.


Not only did he refuse to flaunt his wealth; his estate included a 2007 Toyota Yaris valued at $5,000, but his closest friends and family members did not know he had even a tiny sliver of the fortune he left behind.

Read was born in 1921, grew up in a very small house in Dummerston and he was the first in his family to graduate high school.

He enjoyed picking stocks, his attorney said, and “over time these investments grew substantially.”

The Brooks Memorial Library will receive $1.2 million from Read—twice as much as its entire current endowment—and $4.8 million will go to the nonprofit Brattleboro Memorial Hospital.