His $1K Investment Became $2M. Then He Gave It All Away

'You have to do some good in this world,' says Russ Gremel
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 5, 2017 11:02 AM CDT
His $1K Investment Became $2M. Then He Gave It All Away
An American coot is seen at a wildlife refuge in Lewistown, Ill.   (Anthony Souffle/Chicago Tribune via AP)

It cost Chicago's Russ Gremel $1,007 to buy almost 28,000 shares in local company Walgreens some 70 years ago. Today, those shares are worth $2 million, but Gremel isn't enjoying the payoff of his good investment—at least not in the traditional sense. Instead, he's given back. The 98-year-old closet millionaire opted to donate his shares to the Illinois Audubon Society last year so it could purchase 395 acres of property to turn into a wildlife refuge, reports the Chicago Tribune. The World War II veteran, who spent 60 years as a Boy Scout leader, says he wants people to be able to enjoy the splendors of nature and really doesn't need the money himself. After all, Gremel, who retired from practicing law at 45, is "a very simple man" with few expenses.

He drives a 25-year-old car, lives in the family home he grew up in, doesn't have any children, and would rather eat oatmeal and stew than "fancy foods," Gremel says. "You have to do some good in this world," he adds. "That's what money is for." On Sunday, Gremel and several of his former Boy Scouts were among a crowd of 100 who trekked to the Gremel Wildlife Sanctuary some 100 miles west of Chicago to see it named in his honor, per SaukValley.com and USA Today. His donation, which hasn't been entirely liquidated, was "incredibly generous," IAS' executive director says. But as a friend puts it, "the gift that he has given to thousands of kids through Scouting and the influence it's had on their lives" is "100 times more valuable." (This woman is giving away almost 1 million acres.)

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