Seattle Man's Long-Planned Last Act Shocks, Delights

Alan Naiman left most of an $11M estate to children's charities
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Dec 30, 2018 6:35 AM CST
He Patched His Shoes With Duct Tape, Left Fortune Behind
In this Dec. 14, 2013, photo provided by Shashi Karan, 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 that he quietly amassed and the last act that he had long planned. The Washington state social worker died of cancer this year at age 63, leaving most of a surprising $11 million estate to children's charities that help the poor, sick, disabled, and abandoned. The amount baffled his best friends, reports the AP, who recall a man who patched up his shoes with duct tape, sought deals at the grocery store deli at closing time, and took his best friends out to lunch at fast-food joints. They believe a lifelong devotion to his older brother who had a developmental disability influenced the Seattle man, though he rarely spoke of it.

The brother died in 2013, the same year Naiman, who died unmarried and childless, splurged on a sports car—a modestly priced Scion FR-S. A former banker, Naiman worked the past two decades at the state Department of Social and Health Services, handling after-hours calls. He earned $67,234 and also took on side gigs, sometimes working as many as three jobs. He saved and invested enough to make several million dollars and also inherited millions more from his parents, said Shashi Karan, a friend from his banking days. Many of the organizations benefiting from Naiman's gifts said they didn't know him, though they had crossed paths:

  • He left $2.5 million to the Pediatric Interim Care Center, a private organization in Washington state that cares for babies born to mothers who abused drugs and helps the children wean off their dependence. The group used some of what was its largest donation ever to pay off a mortgage and buy a new vehicle to transport the 200 babies it accepts from hospitals each year. Naiman had called the center about a newborn while working for the state more than a decade ago, and its founder, Barbara Drennen, showed up in the middle of the night to get the baby.
  • Naiman gave $900,000 to the Treehouse foster care organization, telling them that he was a foster parent years ago and had brought kids in his care to the group's popular warehouse, where wards of the state can choose toys and necessities for free. Treehouse is using Naiman's money to expand its college and career counseling statewide.
(More uplifting news stories.)

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