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Secret millionaire gives fortune to alma mater

An Illinois woman who lived through the Great Depression and worked as a secretary for 43 years before passing away at age 100 has left  $7 million to Lake Forest College.
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Grace Groner lived through the Great Depression, so saving money was her expertise.

Nobody knew just how much she had saved until she died in January at age 100 and left $7 million to Lake Forest College, her alma mater.

"Oh, my God," said Lake Forest College President Steve Schutt after finding out the amount.

Groner found ways to save money. She shopped for clothes at rummage sales and walked places instead of buying a car.

"She did not have the (material) needs that other people have," William Marlatt, her attorney and longtime friend, told The Chicago Tribune. "She could have lived in any house in Lake Forest but she chose not to. … She enjoyed other people, and every friend she had was a friend for who she was. They weren't friends for what she had."

She lived in a one-bedroom house in Lake Forest and worked for Abbott Laboratories as a secretary for 43 years. Groner never felt the urge to keep up with the lavish Lake Forest lifestyle, but she did splurge occasionally.

A fortune of millions
Groner began donating small amounts of money toward small scholarship program at the college, and always said she planned on donating more after passing away, but nobody expected her contribution to be in the millions.

The source of her wealth, it turns out, emanates from $180 stock purchase she made in 1935. She consistently reinvested her earnings and grew the purchase into a $7 million fortune.

The money will help about 1,300 Lake Forest students pursue internships and study-abroad programs that they may not have had the chance to take advantage without Groner’s hefty donation.

Aside from the $7 million donation, she also left her small house to the college, which will house scholarship winners who benefited from her donation.