In today’s hectic world, most of us get caught up in our own lives and the daily busyness that we put on ourselves, forgetting that the simplest of things can make the most significant impact on someone else. A smile, a compliment, paying for a meal. Just think how different this world would be if everyone took a few minutes out of their week to do something for someone else.
For 67 years, regardless of snow storms or torrential rain, Sylvia only took the subway to work. Living a simple and frugal life, Sylvia kept her 9 million dollar fortune secret from her family and friends, and when she died, a jaw dropping discovery would be made, blowing them away….
She Grew Up Poor
Sylvia wasn’t born into wealth. The 96-year-old, a child of Eastern European immigrants, grew up in Brooklyn during the Great Depression. A dark time in American history, Sylvia had witnessed the hardships and poverty that had plagued the nation. An experience that left a lasting mark on Sylvia..
A Better Life
As a child of the Depression, Sylvia knew firsthand what it was like not to have money. Her parents had immigrated to America in the hopes of providing Sylvia and her siblings a better life. Unfortunately, they had arrived at one of the saddest times in our history. New to the country, they had to work twice as hard as other citizens to make ends meet…
A Life Lesson
Sylvia’s parents constantly reminded her about the importance of working hard and saving. This approach to life and money is what allowed her family to get through the Depression. But, this would not be the only life lesson Sylvia’s parents stressed…
Helping Others Is True Happiness
In Sylvia’s life as a child, there was never any room for overspending or giving in on an occasional splurge. She realized at an early age that materialism and overindulgence could not bring true lasting happiness in life, but instead, offering a helping hand to those less fortunate…
Worked Her Way Through College
Sylvia saved enough to put herself through college. She worked during the day to make ends meet, while completing her degree at night at Hunter’s College. Her hard work would pay off when she landed her first job…
In 1947, Sylvia joined a fledgling Wall Street law firm as the head secretary. She had worked with the firm, Cleary Gottlieb Steen Hamilton, for a whopping 67 years! It grew to its current size, with more than 1,200 lawyers, as well as hundreds of staff members. Do not let her role as a secretary fool you; it was this position that allowed her to make millions….
A Smart Observation
As a secretary to powerful men with immense wealth, Sylvia observed the investment strategies of the lawyers. She was a secretary in an era when they ran their boss’ lives, including their personal investments. So, whenever her boss would buy a stock, she would make the purchase for him, and then buy the same stock for herself, but in a smaller amount because she was on a secretary’s salary. Genius….
A Quiet Investment
Daily, she would balance her bosses checkbooks. And each time they made another trade or investment, she would secretly do the same. Again and again. Through the years, Sylvia developed her immense wealth among three brokerage houses and 11 banks.
A Secret She Only Knew
As Sylvia’s wealth accumulated, no one had any hint of her jaw dropping fortune. Her family, friends, coworkers were kept in the dark about her finances. This information would also be kept private from her husband of over 50 years….
Not A Big Spender
A pretty private person, Sylvia kept a low profile, living a modest but comfortable life with her husband. Sylvia and her husband, Raymond, a New York City firefighter, teacher and part-time pharmacist lived in a rent-controlled apartment. Realistically, she could have lived in a multimillion-dollar Park Avenue apartment if she desired. And while Bloom did dress well, unlike the other wealthy living in NYC, she didn’t own a single mink coat.
Work Hard Only To Help Others
Sylvia and Raymond never had any children of their own. Sylvia’s relentless dedication to helping others surpassed her own desire to become a mother. Sylvia placed more value on working hard to save up enough money, so that one day she could help those in need. That was her life goal, and oh boy, she would certainly accomplish it….
No Cab Rides Under Any Circumstances
Sylvia Bloom was known for always taking the subway to work, even on the morning of the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks on the World Trade Center. That day, Ms. Bloom, at 84, fled north and took refuge in a building. Once she was cleared to leave, she walked miles to get to the Brooklyn Bridge and then waited to take a city bus home, not a cab.
Work No Matter What
Just before she retired, a close friend of Sylvia saw the 96-year-old trudging out of the subway and heading to work in the middle of a fierce snowstorm. “I said, ‘What are you doing here?’ and she said, ‘Why, where should I be?’” he recalled. Nothing could stop Sylvia’s relentless dedication to work. And the drive to this dedication was her commitment to donate to worthy causes….
Sylvia was the epitome of selflessness. She never talked money and she didn’t live the high life. She wasn’t showy and didn’t want to call attention to herself. Sylvia never wanted any recognition for her incredible act of kindness, explaining why she waited to die for the money to be allocated. She wanted to do only one thing, and that was to help..
An Unlikely Source
When Sylvia died in 2016 at the age of 96, her family and friends learned about the secret she had kept only to herself. They would only find out about her whopping, 8 MILLION dollar fortune by an unlikely source…
Fortune Discovered In Newspapers
In the following weeks after Sylvia’s death, all the newspaper outlets in New York shared a similar headline. Even by the high standards of New York City philanthropy, a recent $6.24 million donation to the Henry Street Settlement was outrageous, making it the largest single gift from an individual to the social service group in its 125-year history. It was not donated by some billionaire benefactor, but by a frugal legal secretary from Brooklyn. None other than Sylvia Bloom…
Helping Was Part Of Her Nature
Discovering her fortune and incredible philanthropic act from media outlets, family and friends were completely flabbergasted. Sylvia’s niece said that while her aunt’s wealth was a surprise, her quiet plan to help students was not.
Education Was Her Passion
Sylvia always had known the importance of education and the disparities of those who could not financially attain a proper one. Her niece also said that an additional $2 million from Sylvia’s bequest would be split between Hunter College and another scholarship fund to be announced.
Her Legacy Lives On
Sylvia’s will allowed for some money to be left to relatives and friends, but directed that the bulk of the fortune go toward scholarships for needy students. Thanks to her generosity she has given the opportunity for countless students today to attend college and follow their dreams.
How Would Sylvia React?
Sylvia would cringe. She would most definitely hate it. But that is no surprise. Sylvia joins the ranks of unassuming and magnanimous millionaires next door, who have died with fortunes far larger than their lifestyles ever would have suggested.