Janitor Secretly Amasses $8 Million Fortune

If there’s anything that Ronald Read learned in his life, it was that you don’t need to earn a massive paycheck to become a millionaire. As one-time Vermont-based janitor and gas station attendant, Read demonstrated that you can reach the 7-figure mark on a modest salary. Unbeknownst to everyone around him until he died at age 92 in June 2014, Read had quietly amassed an $8 million fortune, thanks to smart spending and investing habits. Even Read’s family was surprised to find out about his hidden wealth. Read came from humble beginnings and was the first in his family to graduate from high school. He served in the military during World War II, and after the war he came home to work at a gas station and as a janitor at J.C. Penney. He married a woman who had two children, setting himself up with a ready-made family. Throughout his life, Read maintained a frugal lifestyle, never spending money unless he had to. He drove a second-hand Toyota, used safety pins to hold his coat together, and cut his own firewood well into his 90s. Friends say if he earned $50 a week, he likely invested $40 of it. One thing Read excelled at was picking stocks and holding onto them for the long haul, a strategy that billionaire investor Warren Buffet recommends. Read owned at least 95 stocks at the time of his death, including Proctor & Gamble, J.P. Morgan Chase, General Electric and Dow Chemical. His largest stakes were in J. M. Smucker, CVS Health and Johnson & Johnson. When he died, Read left $6 million of his fortune to his local library and hospital. Brooks Memorial Library invested the bulk of the money to keep it paying dividends to support them down the road, while Brattleboro Memorial Hospital used the money to support infrastructure improvements and general modernization projects. Representatives of both the library and hospital say they are incredibly fortunate and grateful.