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Who knew? Janitor was secret multi-millionaire

Photo: Ronald Read Estate

Photo: Ronald Read Estate

BRATTLEBORO, Vt. — Even a year after his death, people are still surprised to find out Ronald Read was a multi-millionaire.

The Vermont janitor never acted like he had millions of dollars.

When he died at age 92, Read had $8 million according to Reuters.

Family and friends say Read was frugal, using safety pins to hold clothes together and always driving a used car.

It turns out he was also an avid stock investor and made some great choices and held onto them.

When he died, Read left $6 million to a local library and hospital.

It just goes to show, you never judge a book by its cover.

Read was in the Army during World War II before working as a mechanic with his brother for many years. After the garage was sold, Read could have taken some time to relax, but “he didn’t take to retirement very well,” Rowell said.

Read eventually went to work as a part-time janitor at J.C. Penney. He finally retired in 1997.

Though his jobs never yielded large salaries, Read enjoyed investing in the stock market, always putting his money into “dividend producing stocks,” Rowell said.

He lived modestly, hating to spend money or see anything go to waste, a release from Rowell’s law firm said.

“He wouldn’t even park close to my office because he didn’t want to pay for parking,” she said.

When her client died last June and she went to retrieve the appropriate estate documents from Read’s safety deposit box, she realized just how frugal he was.

“The box was completely packed tight with stock certificates,” she said.

When the banker hit the final total, they all stood in shock: Read was worth more than $8 million.

Besides his frugality, Rowell described Read as a quintessential “Vermonter.” He was soft-spoken, but had a great sense of humor. He was also a very private man.

“He’d be shocked to have this much exposure,” Rowell said.

In addition to his charitable donations, Read also gave a portion of his fortune to a couple of stepchildren and friends.

(CNN contributed to this report)