Russ Gremel bought $1,000 in Walgreens stock when he was a young guy, on the recommendation of his brother. He had no clue at the time that his action would lead to the creation of the Gremel Wildlife Sanctuary in Illinois decades later. Russ Gremel had a humble but happy existence. He grew up with little more than what he required as the son of poor working-class parents. Russ’s father was a salesperson who had lost all of his money in the stock market, so he knew stocks couldn’t be trusted, but he still accepted the risk. Russ Gremel grew up while the Gremel family, like hundreds of other Americans, recovered from the stock market crash.
He never married, or had kids, and he lived in the same house his entire life. He was a Boy Scout and served as a Boy Scout Master for over 60 years. He lived a happy yet simple life. He always lived within his means, getting by with only what he needed.
Decades passed, and he never gave his Walgreens stock any attention because he never felt that the money was his to spend because he didn’t earn it. He contacted the Audubon Society and told them he wanted to contribute the monies to create a sanctuary after discovering it had grown to a value of $2 million dollars.
It turned out that the society was interested in 400 acres of land in Illinois. They could buy it with the money, which they did. The Gremel Wildlife Sanctuary was established on the land, which now houses 170 birds and unique turtles. Visitors can view what Illinois was like before it became industrialized at the sanctuary.
Unlike many benefactors, Russ lived to see the fruition of the sanctuary, which made him very happy. He said,
“You have to do good in this world. That is what money is for.”
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