Nightly News   |  December 04, 2013

Unlikely millionaire bequeaths riches to her town

A long-retired first grade teacher who died a couple of years ago in Simsbury, Conn., lived very simply and wasn’t aware of how many riches she had – not until her lawyer discovered she was actually quite wealthy. NBC’s Harry Smith reports.

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>>> finally tonight here our making a difference report. this one involves a small town , a woman who lived there for many years, and a secret that turned out to be worth a fortune. her story tonight from nbc's harry smith .

>> simsbury , connecticut, is a classic new england town whose roots date back to the 1600s . when kathleen mcgowan died a couple of years ago, she was remembered fondly.

>> she loved the little kids. that was where she put her energy. she built a foundation for them for education for life.

>> reporter: tara willerup serves on the board of ed.

>> she was about giving, not getting. she had -- she cared and loved what she did.

>> reporter: single all her life she lived simply with her twin brother bob in the house their parents left them. no one knew that kathleen had a secret. a very big secret. turns out she was a millionaire several times over. when she died, most of the money went to the institution she loved. including the simsbury public schools.

>> you couldn't believe she would have that kind of money.

>> reporter: kathleen didn't know how much she was worth.

>> she thought she had at that time about $40,000.

>> reporter: attorney lou george found she was rich -- really rich. blue chip stocks her family held for more than 50 years, war bonds from the 1940s . their father left them well set but the twins rarely, if ever, touched their inheritance.

>> she was unassuming and a humble individual. lived a modest life. the money was not a priority to her.

>> reporter: more than a dozen institutions will benefit including st. mary's catholic church . her bequest, $374,000.

>> when i heard that amount i was literally astounded. i'm very proud.

>> reporter: a difference making for the parish.

>> she will affect the future for us. if you make a mistake it's all right.

>> reporter: as the children study today and prepare for christmas, no doubt they will also learn that it is more blessed to give than to receive. harry smith , nbc news, simsbury , connecticut.