Secret millionaire Jeffrey Holt leaves $4 million to his small New Hampshire town in his will
A New Hampshire man who lived in an unfurnished mobile home and drove a lawnmower around his small town has died a secret millionaire and left his fortune to the close-knit community.
Jeffrey Holt. Who died in June at age 82, was known as the caretaker of a mobile home park in Hinsdale where he lived in a unit with no computer or television and a bed with legs that went through the floor.
Holt rarely left the town of 4,200 on the border of Vermont and Massachusetts and did not have a car. He was often seen riding his mower to the local store wearing shabby clothes.
Edwin “Smokey” Smith, the Holts’ best friend, former employer and former Republican state legislator, learned shortly before his death that the divorced, childless man had made investments that paid off handsomely — to the tune of $3.8 million.
“It seemed like he got what he wanted, but he didn’t want much,” he said.
Smith suggested that Holt think about community, but he never expected him to deposit the entire lump sum into his coffers, with instructions to spend it on education, health, entertainment, and culture.
“I was flabbergasted when I found out it all went to the city,” Smith said.
He was well-liked in the community, often doing odd jobs for others, but what most residents didn’t know was that he was living well below his means.
“I think for Jeff, mowing the lawn was relaxing, it was a way for him to connect with the outdoors,” said Jim Ferry, his physical therapist.
“I think he saw it as a service to the people he cared about, which were the people in the trailer park who I think he really liked because they weren’t posh people.”
“I don’t think anyone had any idea he was so successful,” said Steve Diorio, chairman of the township select committee, who sometimes waved to Holt from his car. “I know he didn’t have a lot of family, but still, he left it for the city he lives in…it’s a tremendous gift.”
City officials have been discussing how best to use the large shot in the arm, and organizations have been invited to apply for grants.
Hinsdale will “use the remaining funds very sparingly as Mr. Holt did,” City Manager Katherine Lynch said.
Holt, a former production manager at a grain mill, browsed financial publications and invested in a telecommunications mutual fund before the advent of the digital age.
His sister, Allison Holt, 81, of Laguna Woods, California, said that Holt learned from his father the importance of not wasting money and investing.
“Jeffrey had learning difficulties. He was dyslexic,” she said. “He was very intelligent in some ways. When it came to writing or dictating, he was a lost cause. My father was a professor. So, I think Jeff felt like he was Disappointing for my parents, but maybe throwing away all that money was a way to compete.
Holt, who served in the Navy and collected history books and records of composers such as Handel and Mozart, did not talk about money with his sister, but he would often ask her if she needed anything.
“I feel so sad that he didn’t indulge himself a little bit,” said Alison, who also has no children.
“He always told me that his main goal in life was to make sure no one noticed anything,” she said, adding that he would say, “Otherwise you might get in trouble.”
With another wires