A Bold but Modest Millionaire

by Tess

gimmie gimmie
Creative Commons License photo credit: Landii

Whitlowe R. Green came of age during the Great Depression and began his teaching career in 1937 earning $700 a year.

Mr. Green was frugal. He wore second-hand clothing, purchased out-of-date meats, shopped at auctions and rode the bus to teach school.  He never married and lived in a modest home.

Green retired in 1983 from Yates high School, an inner-city school in the Houston school district. His salary at the time was $28,000 annually.

His dream was to donate his savings when he died to Prairie View A & M University, his Alma Mater, a predominately black university.

Whitlowe Green died of cancer at 88 in 2002. He left more than $2.1 million to Prairie View A& M University. Green was the largest single-donor in the university’s history.

It was his level of thriftiness and his financial savvy that paid off for Whitlowe. Near the end of his life he spoke with his personal banker 3-4 times a week and made him promise his Praire View would receive his money.

His family memebers were surprised by the amount of his donation.

Beatrice Green, a cousin by marriage states, ” I didn’t think he had a million. He’d buy the cheapest things. He sacrificed for this. He would always tell us to make your money work for you.”

Another cousin, Sharon Green Mitchell, reported her father and Green stopped talking for a couple of years when Green denied a debt to her dad of $6.76.

Green’s donation was used to begin a scholarship fun. In the fall of 2005, scholarships of $2000 began to be awarded to students.

Is your dream to become a millionaire?
Where can you be more frugal?
Where would you donate $2.1 million if you could and why?

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    { 17 comments… read them below or add one }

    Positively Present April 10, 2009 at 12:22 pm

    1. My dream is not to become a millionaire, though it would be nice. For one thing, a million dollars isn’t what it used to be. It would lend itself to a nice, comfortable life, but it wouldn’t be as if I could purchase anything in the world (and, don’t forget, things don’t make you happy).

    2. I could definitely be more frugal in a lot of ways, but the two main things that eat up my spending are: (a) buying new clothes, and (b) eating out. I REALLY need to cut back on the shopping and this post is a great reminder.

    3. If I could donate $2.1 million, I would give some of it to PETA or the Humane Society to help save the lives of animals, and the rest to the charity at which I volunteer, The National Center for Children and Families (www.nccf-cares.org). I would love to be able to help them with building the new activities center they are working on.

    This was a very thought-provoking post. Thanks!

    Positively Present’s last blog post..the (self) love song


    Alik Levin | PracticeThis.com April 10, 2009 at 1:47 pm

    I would not mind to be a millionaire. But that is not the goal for me, let alone a dream.
    I dream of success, and that is a peace of mind that I have done my best (John Wooden’s simplified definition).
    I have never thought about what I’d do with 2.1 million. I guess I’d do with this what I am doing with any other amount of money – plan thoroughly and invest in something with right impact (“invest” does not necessary mean stocks in this context ;) )

    Alik Levin | PracticeThis.com’s last blog post..Adopt 18/40/60 Rule And Stop Worrying About What They Think About You


    Jannie Funster April 10, 2009 at 2:31 pm

    But I guess he did get married later in life, as to the cousin by marriage?

    I am a millionaire! But it so does not stretch like it did many years ago. I equate it more to a $200,000.00 aire, comparatively.

    I’m really not sure where I could get more frugal. Kelly does get her breakfast at the Chick Filet drive-through every school morning, but that’s only $2.26 a day. She loves those little “minis. ” So we indulge. Good protein for her schooling.

    Perhaps I could cut back on candy! (I just asked Kelly and that was her answer for me.)

    Tho, I do very very much admire his donation, I wonder if Whitlowe R. Green was really happy while he lived? There is a thing as being too frugal, denying yourself little pleasures. There is a balance to seek. And what if the meat was too out-of-date and he wound up sick?? I’ve had food poisioning and it is NOT fun.

    Jannie Funster’s last blog post..Trio


    Tess The Bold Life April 10, 2009 at 3:00 pm

    Positively Present,

    I used to be into clothes until I made a commitment last October to stop. I splurged on my birthday. It’s amazing the time I have not counting the money I’ve saved.
    What great charities you’ve picked. It shows you’re a compassionate person.

    You’re so wise. I also love John Wooden. I read a book years back, my husband told me who he is. I like his simplicity and values. I also like “the right impact” idea.

    Certainly depriving Kelly and you of your ritual wouldn’t be a good idea. How fun.
    I would like to think he was happy and focused…who knows. I can’t agree with you more on a balance. I have many millionaire friends who are so frugal it’s crazy. Like an obsession. They are no fun to be around.

    The grass always looks greener…the wealthy worry as much as the not so wealthy. They worry about losing their money. The others worry about not having enough.

    Tess The Bold Life’s last blog post..A Bold but Modest Millionaire


    Jocelyn of I TAKE OFF THE MASK April 10, 2009 at 7:10 pm

    Yup, I’d like to be a millionaire :-) And if I had that money, I would put up a foundation to support people in shifting to a work that they truly desire to do, their true vocation.

    Jocelyn of I TAKE OFF THE MASK’s last blog post..Forget Not Love (poem)


    Barbara Swafford April 11, 2009 at 12:15 am

    Hi Tess,

    Being a millionaire has never been on my wish list, but being debt free is. Although it would be nice to not have to worry about money, I do know “things” don’t bring happiness so it’s more of a means to an end.

    As I read the story of Mr. Green, I thought it was rather sad that instead of enjoying part of his money, he sacrificed. It seems like there could have been a happy medium – and still made a sizable contribution upon his death.

    If I had that kind of money to donate, I’d have to spread it around as I have a soft spot for animals, children and the elderly.

    Barbara Swafford’s last blog post..Give Your Readers What They Want


    Daphne April 11, 2009 at 3:10 am


    A few years back I put a page in my Dream Book that I would start a scholarship fund for bright students with sound character. It would probably take a million dollars to do that. Ah… how quickly I forget my dreams. Thanks for the reminding to start working towards this again!

    Daphne’s last blog post..Who Is Your Ideal Reader?


    Liara Covert April 11, 2009 at 7:44 am

    Regardless of whether human beings possess large sums of money, they can always donate priceless time, effort, love and intangible aspects of the self to a variety of persons and causes. Awakening to all the choices at your fingertips may happen suddenly or gradually. Revelations are not limited to money you have or save. As Gandhi says, “be the change you wish to see in the world.” To tap into unlimited abundance and gratitude moves mountains.

    Liara Covert’s last blog post..10 Ways to respect every moment


    LisaNewton April 11, 2009 at 4:58 pm

    I agree with several of the other comments. Was he really happy? Or could he have found a balance? Perhaps helped his family?

    I’m with Barbara on this one. I’m not as much concerned about how much money as being debt free. I’d love to have enough so I didn’t have to be quite so frugal, which I’m very good at, but happiness comes from inside, not from how much money I have.

    If I were in a position to donate 2.1 million dollars, I think I’d help other business people like myself with a small start-up fund. Just enough to give them a chance to realize their dreams.

    LisaNewton’s last blog post..Sun and Fun at the Santa Monica Pier


    Nadia - Happy Lotus April 11, 2009 at 7:10 pm

    Hi Tess,

    That is such a great story! Thank you for sharing it with all of us.

    Now moving on to answer your questions:

    For me it is not so much the desire to be a millionaire but rather to have enough money where all our needs are met and there is no sense of struggling to survive financially.

    As for being more frugal…there is nothing that comes to mind at the moment. :)

    I would most definitely donate 2.1 million dollars if I could. I would donate to a place that helps homeless people get off the streets so that they can return to having a home and a job.

    Nadia – Happy Lotus’s last blog post..No Good, No Bad


    Amanda Linehan April 11, 2009 at 7:12 pm

    Hi Tess – This story does a good job of making us all think about what we would want to give that kind of money to. Something that we cared about so much that we could make a substantial gift and not think about the amount of money. Thanks for sharing this!

    Amanda Linehan’s last blog post..When Your Emotions Are Running Away With You


    SnaggleTooth April 11, 2009 at 11:23 pm

    A million may not last long in the current environment. I shoot for billions.
    Once I start a good roll going, I’d get out of the night job n then start really working!- devoting serious time to all my arts, write, design, music, paint, hire a bunch of folks, then onto movie making.
    I believe in donating to the little-guys fighting to get by. I gave a neighbor a $2k gift once to save his house. Paid for a sick woman’s water bill before they shut it off. Both my sisters were helped with house payments n some ill folks with Rx funds. Some people I’ve tried to help refused the gift- so next time I have enough to help, I’ll be anonymous so they have to take it.

    Scholarships are good, Disease is a great research cause. I’ve given to Animal shelters. Altho it would last alot longer if I saved more for me, I find it doesn’t feel right to hold onto it all when you’re watching folks around you go down the tubes!

    SnaggleTooth’s last blog post..Inanimate Visitors


    Albert | UrbanMonk.Net April 12, 2009 at 1:02 am

    Hi Tess, great story! To answer the questions, I’m like Nadia above. I am aiming for a level where I don’t have to worry about finances and have enough time to do my own thing instead of slaving away trading my hours for an income. And still have some stashed away for a rainy day.

    Frugal – mostly in my food. I enjoy my food and don’t think twice about spending big bucks for some good food. :D I’m OK when it comes to spending in other things though.

    Donations – definitely, I would probably donate it to cancer foundations and so on.

    Albert | UrbanMonk.Net’s last blog post..Allowing Your Loved Ones Their Full Experience, Part 4


    Jannie Funster April 12, 2009 at 7:33 pm

    And the Chick Filet dive-thru people love us. When we came back after spring break they said the had missed us sooo much! We must never deny them our smiling faces in the morning either.


    Jannie Funster’s last blog post..Trio


    Solomon April 13, 2009 at 8:52 am

    Hi Tesse,
    I want to be a millionaire! But how? Given my fledgling freelance copywriter career is heading; and given the utter lack of business ethics in the field.
    I know for sure if I start doing what I believed in will sure get there.
    If I become one I’ll sure visit foreign lands and buy so many books to my people in village to read about the things in the world!
    I really like intelligent spending. I really like building avenue that make opportunities. Good story that makes us inspired to save!

    Solomon’s last blog post..Leverage the RAW ENERGY of YOUR SPEECH


    Tabitha April 13, 2009 at 9:51 am

    Hi Tess,

    I’ve never dreamed nor wished to be a millionaire just financially stable. If I did come into a large sum of money (depending on the amount) I would donate to shelters, families in need and continue running my mission that I have now.

    Tabitha’s last blog post..I Am SO Having A Giveaway!!


    Tess The Bold Life April 13, 2009 at 11:38 am

    That’s a great place to donate. I don’t think you’d ever run out of people to help!

    I understand your feelings about Mr. Green. However today I’m thinking that’s our judgement. What if he truly was happy living on less? What if it was part of his focus and that made him happy and joyful?

    I’m happy I inspired you to continue working on your dream! You go Daphne!

    You are so wise. I’m tapping into the gratitude and abundance each day of my life.
    I also agree with not waiting to have money before helping others.


    I will hold your vision being financially set. I also love your idea about getting homeless off the streets. Everyone deserves that.

    We give our to The Smile Train where doctors go and operate on the cleft palates of children. Thanks for stopping by.

    My husband is like you. He enjoys food and enjoys going out to eat. He refuses to be frugal about it. Sometimes I can talk him into sharing instead of two orders. I also get trading time for money. I think with your writing you’re on the write path! It’s awesome.

    I agree don’t deprive anyone of your smiling faces ever!

    I checked out your website and I love you enthusiasm for life and your mission.
    You rock!

    Snaggle Tooth,
    I love helping the little guys as well. You are an inspiration to everyone with your generosity. Remember it’ll all come back tenfold.

    I’m happy to inspire your dream. I

    Tess The Bold Life’s last blog post..Magical Mondays Make Them 1/7 Of Your Life


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