A Washington state social worker lived a life of solitude as a “loner,” never marrying or having any children. Although some had noticed his unusual quirks, no one knew what he was hiding. When he died suddenly at 63, the truth was revealed. His community was left in disbelief as his big secret came out with his unexpected death.
Alan Naiman was a solitary soul and a bit of a “loner,” even though he was a social worker. While his job involved meeting lots of different people, he kept to himself outside of work and was intensely private. He seemed to prefer his own company as he never married or had any children. Not many people knew much about him, and the few who did had no idea he had been hiding a big secret for decades.
What people did know was that Alan was very conservative with his money. His unabashed thriftiness was hard to ignore since he mended his shoes with duct tape rather than buying new ones. He was thrilled when he finally received a senior discount. Although he was a lover of cars, he chose to drive beat up and rundown vehicles most of his life.
Overall, he appeared to be what many would consider a cheapskate. Although he earned a decent annual salary of $67,234 as a social worker, according to CTV News, he was always looking for the best deals at the grocery store or while dining out. Indeed, Alan seemed hellbent on pinching his pennies.
It wasn’t until after his death that everyone came to understand why Alan Naiman chose to live such a frugal life. He was secretly amassing a fortune. Not only did Alan invest wisely, but he also took on many side jobs to earn extra cash. Sometimes, he worked as many as three jobs at the same time. A former banker, Alan spent the last two decades of his life at the state Department of Social and Health Services, handling after-hours calls.
Alan had also inherited money when his parents passed away, according to Shashi Karan, a friend from his banking days. And, he had big plans for all of his money that was long in the making. But, no one had the slightest inkling what the frugal banker turned social worker was quietly doing.
Through his work, Alan saw firsthand how tough life was for many children. Although he rarely talked about it, he also grew up with an older brother who had a developmental disability. “Growing up as a kid with an older, disabled brother kind of colored the way he looked at things,” close friend Susan Madsen revealed, according to ABC7.
Alan devoted his life to helping his brother, who sadly passed away in 2013. At that time, Alan treated himself to a sports car, but it would be one of the very few expenditures the man made for himself. And, even his one-time splurge was conservative as Alan chose a modestly priced Scion FR-S.
For decades, Alan secretly stashed away his fortune — one that no one knew existed until he tragically died of cancer, according to Fox News. In his will, Alan left most of his estate to children’s charities that help the poor, sick, disabled, and abandoned. That estate was a staggering $11 million. The amount not only baffled the beneficiaries and his best friends, but it also shocked his community and people around the world as his secret was revealed.
The Pediatric Interim Care Center, a private organization in Washington state which helps babies born to mothers who abuse drugs and helps the children wean off their dependence, was one of the charities to benefit from Alan’s selflessness. The generous gift of $2.5 million was the largest donation they ever received.
Shockingly, the Pediatric Interim Care Center, like most of the organizations he left money to, had no personal relationship with Alan. Although Alan had called the facility for help placing a newborn while he was working for the state more than a decade before, the staff never really met or got to know him personally.
“We would never dream that something like this would happen to us. I wish very much that I could have met him. I would have loved to have had him see the babies he’s protecting,” said Barbara Drennen, the founder of the Pediatric Interim Care Center.
In addition to the Pediatric Interim Care Center, Alan also left money to Childhaven and the Treehouse foster care organization, revealing that he was once a foster parent himself years ago, USA Today reported. “The frugality that he lived through, that he committed to in his life, was for this,” said Jessica Ross, Treehouse’s chief development officer. “It’s really a gift to all of us to see that pure demonstration of philanthropy and love.”
Alan Naiman dedicated his life to saving money for the benefit of others; an incredible gesture to be sure. As we are often inundated with negative news, a story comes along to remind us that there is good in the world, even if we don’t always see it.
How many people saw Alan’s duct-taped shoes and had no idea the amazing gift that would come to fruition because of such a sacrifice. It’s time we pay tribute to people like Alan, who work hard to help others and never receive the recognition they deserve for their efforts, by bringing attention to the good news they have given us.