So far, our millionaires have lived low-profile lives at what might be called the middle-middle class or even lower middle-class levels of society. These hard-working souls may not have looked like the millionaires that they were, but they certainly didn’t look penniless … Then there was Gordon Elwood.
Gordon Elwood, born in 1920, was a lifelong resident of the Rogue Valley area of southwestern Oregon; living primarily in and around the city of Medford.
By all accounts, Gordon worked hard his entire life. Starting with a childhood paper route and continuing on as a fruit picker and later as a self-taught television technician.
Unfortunately, his frugality was at such an extreme level that he did without some of the basic necessities of life.
His shack-like home had no heat, a sagging roof and the yard was littered with junk from his television repair days as well as empty tuna cans from which his legion of cats ate.
Additionally, his personal appearance was not very pleasing. He always wore second hand clothes, most times held up by a rope or bungee cord. He spent the majority of his time riding his old bicycle around town looking through trash cans and dumpsters collecting the aluminum cans he recycled for money. The local children nicknamed him “Stan-the-Can-Man”.
He subsisted on charitable handouts of food even being known to fill his pockets with cookies while visiting the local bank. He lived his later years on the periphery of society always looking in but never belonging; essentially ignored.
However, Gordon loved his community and was preparing a big surprise for them. Upon his 1999 death at the age of seventy-nine, that surprise was revealed to the whole community.
An estate worth $9 million was left to the communities of Rogue Valley by one Gordon Elwood! Gordon’s wish was to help others and to make his time on this earth worthwhile. To that end, his will created the Gordon Elwood Foundation designed to give a helping hand to the underprivileged of the Rogue Valley area.
The foundation is still going strong today disbursing funds to help children, families and the community at large. Imagine, a man that no one befriended or paid much attention to cared enough about his community to leave them such a wonderful gift. It should teach all of us not to judge a book by its cover!