Margaret Southern lived a private life in her modest South Carolina townhouse. She taught special-needs kids, looked after her ailing brother, drove the same 1980s Cadillac for years, and loved both her dachshund—who would bark without Southern's undivided attention—and the local minor league baseball team. No one but her investment manager suspected the 94-year-old had millions stashed away until she died in October 2012, leaving an $8.4 million fortune to the Community Foundation of Greenville, South Carolina, the Greenville News reports. "What's exceptional is she didn't spend it on herself and she was able to accumulate a lot of money that she wanted to direct to her dearest charities," the foundation president says. "I haven't met a lot of people like that."
Southern's husband was an actuary who left his wife a comfortable estate when he died in 1983. Southern decided to invest because she wanted to be able to buy anything she wanted, the man who managed her investments said, but she still lived simply and was known for being generous with friends. As per her wishes, half the money will go to the Greenville Humane Society, the first $200,000 of which it will receive next week, to be used to pay off the loan it took out to build two years ago. The rest will be divided amongst various charities, including some focusing on children. Southern also left money to relatives and caregivers. (Click to read about another teacher who left much of her secret fortune to charity, or a frugal man who left behind a secret fortune of $188 million.)