Frugal Seattle Man Leaves $188M Secret Fortune

His will gave children's hospital biggest gift in its history

By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff

Posted Nov 28, 2013 10:47 PM CST | Updated Nov 29, 2013 5:20 AM CST

(Newser) – An elderly man who had holes in his clothes and took buses instead of taxis has amazed Seattle Children's Research Institute with what it says is the biggest gift ever earmarked for pediatric research—in the entire US. The hospital's research center will receive the largest portion of a $188 million charitable trust left by Jack MacDonald, who died at the age of 98 after decades of secret philanthropy, reports the Seattle Times. Only a select few family and friends knew that the bargain-hunting man who lived simply in a retirement home had spent more than 60 years using his incredible skill for picking stocks to turn the nest egg his parents left him into a huge legacy for charity.

The trust will also benefit the University of Washington School of Law and the Salvation Army. MacDonald, who served in the South Pacific in World War II before spending 30 years as an attorney for the Veterans Administration, supported hundreds of other causes with donations while he was alive, including $150,000 to the Canadian village his grandfather moved to from Scotland. The president of the Seattle Children’s Foundation describes MacDonald as a humble, understated man who regularly visited the hospital and sympathized with the patients and their families. "He was drawn to the patient stories," he says. "There was a lot of hope in those stories, and that really resonated with him." (It's not the only fortune to make the news this week: A $7.5 million fortune is buried in a Welsh landfill.)

Jack MacDonald, who friends say went out of his way to look poor, spent his lifetime building a huge gift for charity.
Jack MacDonald, who friends say went out of his way to look poor, spent his lifetime building a huge gift for charity.   (Seattle Children's Hospital)
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