Phyllis A. Stone
New York! The very name conjures up visions of fame, fortune and, dare I say it, wealth. It would not be hard to imagine a multi-millionaire in this environment living it up.
However, I am not speaking about New York City, but rather New York state; and the city in question is definitely not “the city that never sleeps”.
Albany, New York is located up-state from New York City and functions as the state capital. It is part of a conglomeration of small cities which make up what is known as the Capital District.
Life is much slower in Albany compared to its sister to the south and is not as well known for producing great wealth. Albany is actually the perfect location for another surprise millionaire!
Phyllis A. Stone was a very unassuming woman. At the time of her death in 2013 at age 91, Phyllis had lived in the same weather worn, two family flat in a working class area of Albany for several decades and drove a vehicle of undeterminable age. Yet when her estate was settled, the final tabulation totaled more than six million dollars!
Phyllis never married and had no family to speak of but was known to be “a hoot” which won her many friends. Most of these friends were just as shocked as everyone else regarding the size of Phyllis’ estate. Also in shock were the many charities that Phyllis blessed with her bequests.
Organizations from the Salvation Army to Whiskers, Inc. (Phyllis had several cats) were the recipients of her generosity. But where did this great wealth come from?
Phyllis’ story is one of those combinations of self-made wealth along with a little inherited wealth as well. She had indicated to some of her friends that she inherited money upon the death of her parents some forty plus years ago. In addition, Phyllis was a long time employee of the Mobil Oil Corporation in which she obtained stock from early on in the company’s history. The company stock split many times over the years making Phyllis a major shareholder.
Phyllis was also a dedicated “Dead Head” and was purported to be a friend of Gerry Garcia and the rest of the band. It was said that she attended concerts well into her eighties! She was also known to drop in to visit the city’s Mayor in his offices whenever she was in the area “just to chat”. It was also discovered that she was a shareholder in a local bank and had for years kept a box at the Saratoga race track.
Unfortunately, like many of our surprise millionaires, Phyllis was a study in contrasts. While she was very wealthy and seemed to embrace some of the benefits of that wealth, she was also found to have lived a substandard daily existence.
Her home was piled high with old newspapers, paper sacks and various other forms of waste and debris. The mechanic who worked on her car indicated that the back seat was piled high with newspapers almost reaching the windows. Sadly, in her later years as dementia took its toll on her faculties, her personal appearance suffered as well. What a sad situation for such a loving and caring lady.
However, Phyllis had friends who watched out for her well-being during this time and saw to it that she had the care she needed. She even hired a young man to be her “bodyguard” after her home had been broken in to some years earlier (this same young man was remembered in Phyllis’ will as well).
This sweet and lovable character touched all those she knew and benefited so many deserving charities and organizations after she was gone; another successful life well lived.