Editor’s note: We don’t use unnamed sources in news stories as a rule, but will bend those rules for this one. Read on to find out why. And look for a follow up next week.
A longtime South Bryan resident who’d prefer for the moment to remain anonymous will be honored Friday at a lunch in Richmond Hill.
The reason for the fuss is a sizable donation to his alma mater, a certain military college up in South Carolina.
It’s evidently a gift large enough to get his and his wife’s name on a new building housing the school’s business college. Six figures large enough.
And it’s not the only donation the 83-year-old man is making. But more on that in a minute. First, the reason.
“We come into this life, if we’re lucky we make a good living, and then we die and we’re gone, and it seems to me it’s more rewarding when you die if you don’t have anything left,” he said, during a visit to the Bryan County News office Wednesday. “You start out with nothing, you build a lot, but when you leave it’s all gone. So you should give it away.”
Then he smiled.
“But how you do it is another thing,” he said, noting the first thing he had to do was make a list. He came up with four good causes.
“Other than my family, one is my church, there’s my alma mater The Citadel, and animals, and the homeless,” he said.
So far he’s checked off three of the four items in terms of gifts – each of which is worth in one form or another more than $1 million.
He’s still working on that fourth and final box, but wants to make sure whatever gift he gives, in whatever form it takes, isn’t squandered.
And it’s not a popularity contest. “I’m not looking for praise,” the man said. “I asked that one of my gifts be given anonymously, so they put it down like that.”
Despite that wish for anonymity, the donor thinks he might be able to inspire others to do something similar if they know his story, just as he said he was inspired by stories in which those with wealth give that wealth to others.
“I thought this was a story that really would be good for anywhere,” he said, adding that he believes, “there’s a lot of people who would like to do something like this, but they don’t know how to do it or who to do it with.”
His advice for those so inclined is simple. Find a good financial advisor like he did. And for what it’s worth, she also asked not to be named, saying in an email, “I had very little to do with his situation other than helping him as a friend.”
The jaded among us will be cynical, for sure, but the donor’s reason for seeking to remain unnamed for as long as possible is fairly easy to understand.
“I don’t know if I can still go to the gym and be who I am if people know about this,” he said.
Being a self-made, successful businessman, this donor understands that he won’t be anonymous forever.
There’s that Richmond Hill Exchange Club lunch Friday with Citadel representatives, when that particular cat gets officially let out of the bag.
Many in the Exchange Club probably already know. So does his church.
And perhaps so will others, down the road, including those he’s helped. Even if they might know him by name or face.
“When people create wealth, they play golf, they get a yacht, they do all these kinds of things and then it’s over,” he said. “When I die, the people, the animals, the church, they will all know that somebody made it happen, that somebody cared.”