Alan Naiman was so thrifty he taped up his old shoes instead of buying a new pair, and spent a large part of his days scouring shops for the best grocery deals.
So when he died in January this year at the age of 63 following a battle with cancer, his friends were stunned to learn the reclusive US social worker was actually a secret multi-millionaire.
Mr Naiman, an unmarried former banker who had no children or close relatives of his own, left the bulk of the $A15.6 million fortune he had stealthily saved over many decades of sacrifice to various children’s charities devoted to helping sick, disabled, poor or abandoned kids.
According to close friend Shashi Karan, Mr Naiman, who lived in Washington state, inherited millions from his parents after their death.
However, he also saved millions of his own after working several jobs and cutting down on all but essential purchases for himself, Mr Karan told AP.
Mr Karan said after his friend’s death, he discovered the man had many secrets.
“I don’t know if he was lonely. I think he was a loner,” Mr Karan said.
According to AP, Mr Naiman’s state Department of Social and Health Services role, which he had held for 20-odd years, netted $A95,448 per year — a figure he added to by working up to three other side jobs.
Another friend, Susan Madsen, said Mr Naiman’s devotion to vulnerable kids stemmed from his close relationship with his brother, who had a developmental disability and who died in 2013.
“Growing up as a kid with an older, disabled brother kind of coloured the way he looked at things,” Ms Madsen told AP.
The organisation reported Mr Naiman would treat his friends to fast-food lunches to save money, was excited once he was able to claim discounts for senior citizens, only drove old cars and bought cheap clothes from grocery stores.
His donations included $A3,549,125 for the paediatric Interim Care Centre, which assists the kids of drug-addicted mothers, and $A1,277,685 for the Treehouse foster care organisation.
“The frugality that he lived through, that he committed to in his life, was for this,” Treehouse chief development officer Jessica Ross told AP.
“It’s really a gift to all of us to see that pure demonstration of philanthropy and love.”
Mr Naiman’s friends said they had decided to speak out about his incredible selflessness and sacrifice to pay tribute to him as the first anniversary of his death approaches.
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