Alan Naiman Seattle Social Worker Patched Shoes With Duct Tape, Left $11M.
Washington state social worker Alan Naiman was known for a thriftiness that veered into comical, but even those closest to him had no inkling of the fortune he quietly amassed and the last act that he had long planned.
Naiman died of cancer this year at age 63, leaving most of a surprising $US11 million ($A9.65 million) estate to children’s charities that help the poor, sick, disabled and abandoned.
The amount baffled the beneficiaries and his best friends, who are lauding Naiman as the anniversary of his death approaches in January.
That’s because the Seattle man patched up his shoes with duct tape, sought deals at the grocery store deli at closing time and took his best friends out to lunch at fast-food joints.
Naiman, who died unmarried and childless, loved kids but also was intensely private, scrimping, investing and working extra jobs to stockpile money that he rarely spent on himself after seeing how unfair life could be for the most vulnerable children, his friends say.
They believe a lifelong devotion to his older brother who had a developmental disability influenced Naiman. The brother died in 2013, the same year Naiman splurged on a modestly priced sports car.
“Growing up as a kid with an older, disabled brother kind of coloured the way he looked at things,” close friend Susan Madsen said.
A former banker, Naiman worked the past two decades at the state Department of Social and Health Services, handling after-hours calls.
He earned $US67,234 and also took on side gigs, sometimes working as many as three jobs. He saved and invested enough to make millions of dollars and also inherited millions from his parents, said friend Shashi Karan.
Naiman loved cars, but for the most of his life he drove beat-up vehicles, friends say.
Naiman left $US2.5 million to the Pediatric Interim Care Centre, a private organisation in Washington state that cares for babies born to mothers who abused drugs and helps the children wean off their dependence.
The group used some of what was its largest donation ever to pay off a mortgage and buy a new vehicle to transport the 200 babies it accepts from hospitals each year.
Naiman had called the centre about a newborn while working for the state more than a decade ago, and its founder, Barbara Drennen, showed up in the middle of the night to get the baby.
“We would never dream that something like this would happen to us. I wish very much that I could have met him. I would have loved to have had him see the babies he’s protecting,” Drennen said.
Naiman also gave $US900,000 to the Treehouse foster care organisation.
“The frugality that he lived through, that he committed to in his life, was for this,” said Jessica Ross, Treehouse’s chief development officer. “It’s really a gift to all of us to see that pure demonstration of philanthropy and love.”