updated 6/20/2005 11:31:36 PM ET 2005-06-21T03:31:36

A retired public school teacher who was so frugal that he bought expired meat and secondhand clothing left $2.1 million for his alma mater, Prairie View A&M — the school’s largest gift from a single donor.

Whitlowe R. Green, 88, died of cancer in 2002. He retired in 1983 from the Houston Independent School District, where he was making $28,000 a year as an economics teacher.

His donation shocked family members and friends alike.

“He was a very meager person. I didn’t think he had a million,” said Beatrice Green, a cousin by marriage. “He’d buy the cheapest things.”

Sharon Green Mitchell, another cousin, said Green and her father stopped talking for a couple of years when Green denied owing her dad $6.76. On road trips, Green would equally divide the gas bill among the adults.

“Now it’s funny, but years ago you would sometimes get annoyed,” Mitchell said.

Green’s frugality was matched by his belief in education and dedication to young people, she said.

He often talked about leaving money to Prairie View, a historically black university. Green graduated in 1936.

“He sacrificed for this. He would always tell us to make your money work for you, and he did,” Mitchell said. “I remember him saying, ’I’m going to help black children get an education.’ He did it.”

Green’s donation will be used to establish a scholarship fund. The first scholarships are to be awarded this fall; students will receive $2,000 each.

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