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Wealthy Despite Humble Beginnings

Wealthy Despite Humble Beginnings

February 16, 2024

Wealthy Despite Humble Beginnings:


Ronald Read and Grace Groner, both hailing from modest backgrounds, defied the odds and amassed substantial wealth despite holding low-paying jobs throughout their lives. These individuals are a testament to long-term investing and the virtue of patience.

Ronald Read’s Journey:

Ronald Read’s life began on a Vermont farm, where he grew up poor. After completing high school and serving in World War II, he returned to Vermont to become a gas station attendant and mechanic for 25 years. He lived modestly and invested vigorously.  “Retiring” at 58, Ron took a job as a janitor to keep himself busy.  Remarkably, he never earned more than $40,000 during his working years. However, after passing in 2014 at age 92, his net worth reached $8 million.  Ron’s story demonstrates the power of living simply and making smart investment choices.

Grace Goner’s Success Story:

 Similarly, Grace Goner’s life journey began with adversity. Orphaned at 12, she and her twin sister were taken in by family friends who helped Grace pursue higher education. After graduating, Grace became a secretary at Abbott Laboratories, where she decided to invest a few hundred dollars in the company stock early in her four-decade-long career. Through the magic of compounding returns and dividends, Grace accumulated a net worth of $7 million by the time of her passing in 2010. Her story is an excellent example of the potential rewards of long-term investing.

Common Threads:

Ron and Grace’s stories share several common threads. Both emerged from impoverished backgrounds, led modest lives, and made wise investment decisions in equities, emphasizing a long-term approach while reinvesting dividends. Their longevity played a significant role in allowing their investments to compound.   In addition, their legacies continue to impact their communities positively.  Ron generously gifted $4.8 million to Brattleboro Hospital and $1.2 million to the local library, while Grace, at the age of 100, created the Grace Groner Foundation, which continues to provide financial assistance to students at Lake Forest University, where she attended.

In the words of Warren Buffett, “Someone is sitting in the shade today because someone planted a tree a long time ago.” Ron and Grace's stories remind us that with disciplined financial habits and the determination to eliminate bad financial practices, anyone can increase their savings and investments over time. These fantastic individuals remind us that wealth can be built, even with humble beginnings.

Originally Printed in New Haven Register 9/23/23