When Geoffrey Holt of Hinsdale, New Hampshire died earlier this year at 82, not many people knew he had over $1 million.
He wore worn-out clothes. He did not do jobs that paid a lot of money. He rode a bicycle instead of owning a car, and he had a small home.
But when he had extra money, he invested it well. One friend said he put money into a mutual fund that held stock in communications companies. This was in the days before mobile phones.
Holt told one friend, Edwin Smith, that the money had grown more than he expected.
Holt died with $3.8 million.
He left all the money to the town of Hinsdale.
The town has about 4,200 people and is about 160 kilometers northwest of Boston, Massachusetts.
In Holt’s will, the document he left when he died, he said the money should be used for education, health, recreation and culture.
Steve Diorio is one of the town leaders. He called the money “a tremendous gift.”
No determination has been made yet about how the town will use the money. However, it seems as if the money will go into a special fund, and organizations can submit their ideas for approval.
Some have suggested upgrading the town hall clock, others have talked about repairing civic buildings or buying a vote-counting machine.
Kathryn Lynch is another town leader. She said Hinsdale will use the money carefully, or “frugally,” which is how Holt lived.
Smith, Holt’s friend, said “he seemed to have what he wanted, but he didn’t have much.”
Holt would ride his bicycle or his lawn mower around town. He would go to a small store to buy a newspaper and he would sit on the lawn mower reading it or watching cars pass.
When he was younger, he worked as a manager for a grain production center. After the center closed, he did small jobs around town – helping people fix things in their homes or teaching teenagers how to drive. He did not have a television, and his friend said his home was not in perfect condition – the legs of his bed made holes in the floor.
But Smith said Holt studied financial magazines and carefully decided how to invest his money. He also liked reading about history – some of his favorite topics included World War II and learning about the auto manufacturer Henry Ford. He also enjoyed listening to classical music and had a record collection that included works by Handel and Mozart.
Holt’s sister, Alison, is 81. She lives in California. She said she knew her brother invested his money and did not like to spend wastefully. She said their father passed the ideas along to his children.
Alison said her brother had a learning disability called dyslexia, so he had trouble reading and writing. “But he was very smart in certain ways.”
She thought that Geoffrey was disappointed he could not succeed in education, so “maybe socking away all that money was a way to compete.”
The Holts grew up nearby in Springfield, Massachusetts. Geoffrey Holt went to Marlboro College in Vermont and also served in the U.S. Navy.
Neither Geoffrey nor his sister had any children. Alison said her brother did not need a lot to be happy. But she is sad he never used the money to “indulge himself a little bit.”
I’m Dan Friedell.
Dan Friedell adapted this story for Learning English based a story by the Associated Press.
Words in This Story
tremendous –adj. very large or great
fund –n. an amount of money that is meant to be used for or serves a specific purpose
civic –adj. related to a city or town
frugally –adv. being careful not to spend money when it is not necessary; the careful use of money
sock away –v. (phrasal, informal) to save a supply of something, often money, by putting it in a safe place
indulge –v. to permit yourself or someone else to do something purely for the pleasure of it
We want to hear from you. How would you use the money if you were a town leader?