updated 3/8/2009 10:00:27 AM ET 2009-03-08T14:00:27

Bruce Lindsay left behind a tip officials at Vanguard University won't soon forget.

Lindsay, who passed away last month at 79, bequeathed his estate to the small Christian university in Orange County where he ate daily at the cafeteria for decades. The donation, estimated to be at least several million dollars, will likely help the school that is saddled with $42 million in debt.

Known as the "campus grandpa" by students, Lindsay amassed his fortune by buying up cut-rate oil leases and flipping beachfront homes. A product of the Great Depression, Lindsay relished a good, cheap meal and abandoned a nearby hospital cafeteria for Vanguard where he found all-you-can-eat meals for $1.25.

"'Frugal' is not the right word for Bruce," suggested business professor Ed Westbrook, who befriended Lindsay. "He was real miserly."

Lindsay ate all of his meals on campus and often talked with both students and teachers, doling out advice. A former university president gave Lindsay the title of "student advocate" in the 1980s and with the title came free cafeteria food.

He became such a fixture at the 2,200-student university, he would often hold court in the crowded dining hall.

"I didn't sit with him every day, but there was always a big group of people who would eat with him at breakfast," recalled sophomore Brandon Arias.

Lindsay, who was never married and had no children, wasn't shy about commenting on the cafeteria fare. Lindsay's last words to Westbrook: "The cook put too much salt in the soup."

It's a good bet that a portion of Lindsay's money will be used to help build a new dining hall.

"That way," Westbrook said, "students will always be eating with Bruce."

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