Social Worker Patched Shoes With Duct Tape, Left $11M

Friends were shocked to find that frugal Alan Naiman had amassed a fortune before he died
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Dec 28, 2018 6:23 AM CST
Social Worker Patched Shoes With Duct Tape, Left $11M
In this Dec. 14, 2013, photo, Alan Naiman poses with his new car, an unusual extravagance for him, in Seattle.   (Shashi Karan via AP)

Alan Naiman was known for an unabashed thriftiness that veered into the comical, but even those closest to him had no inkling of the fortune he quietly amassed and the last act he'd long planned. The Washington state social worker died of cancer this year at age 63, leaving most of an $11 million estate to children's charities that help the poor, sick, disabled, and abandoned, per the AP. The amount baffled beneficiaries and friends, who laud Naiman as the anniversary of his January death approaches. That's because the Seattle man, who worked for two decades at the state Department of Social and Health Services, patched his shoes with duct tape, sought deals at the deli at closing time, and drove beat-up cars. An ex-banker, Naiman earned $67,234 and also took on side gigs, sometimes working as many as three jobs. He saved and invested enough to make several millions of dollars and also inherited millions more from his parents, a friend from his banking days says.

Naiman, who died unmarried and childless, loved kids but also was intensely private, scrimping, investing, and working extra jobs to stockpile money that he rarely spent on himself after seeing how unfair life could be for the most vulnerable children, his friends say. They believe a lifelong devotion to his older brother who had a developmental disability influenced Naiman, though he rarely spoke of it. Many of the organizations benefiting from Naiman's gifts said they didn't know him, though they'd crossed paths. He left $2.5 million to the Pediatric Interim Care Center, a private organization in Washington that cares for babies born to mothers who abused drugs. He also gave $900,000 to the Treehouse foster care organization, telling them that he was a foster parent years ago. "It's really a gift to all of us to see that pure demonstration of philanthropy and love," says a Treehouse rep.

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