Millionaire janitor bought Wells Fargo, Procter & Gamble, Colgate-Palmolive stock

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BRATTLEBORO, Vt. — The executor of a Vermont man’s estate is still trying to determine the exact worth of the five-inch stack of stock certificates the man left behind in a safe-deposit box, discovered after his death in June.

Ronald Read, 92, worked at a service station for nearly 25 years, and then at JC Penney.  While his salary didn’t make him a wealthy man, his investments did.  No one knew that until he died, though.  He  bequeathed millions of dollars to his local library and hospital.

Brattleboro Memorial Hospital received $4.8 million and Brooks Memorial Library received $1.2 million. It is the largest gift they’ve every received.

Read’s attorney, Laurie Rowell says Read had two hobbies: cutting firewood and picking stocks. She says over time, his investments “grew substantially.”

In a Wall Street Journal report this week, more was revealed about Read’s investments. The Wall Street Journal must be happy to learn that Read was a regular subscriber and reader.  He also went to his local library to do research.

Read was careful and methodical, if not old-fashioned, in his approach to investing. According to Bridget Bokum, a senior client associate at the Wells Fargo Advisors office in Brattleboro, and who is assisting with his estate, today’s investor would have difficulty following Read’s path.

If they don’t use an investment advisor, those who invest themselves prefer to use a computer.  In the Wall Street Journal report, Bokum said, Mr. Read thought “a computer would have been wasteful.”

He lived incredibly frugally by most people’s standards. In February, friends told CNN that he’d often park far away from a location just so he wouldn’t have to pay for parking. He was known for wearing a tattered hat and occasionally kept his coat closed with safety pins.



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