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Lansing, Michigan

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"Secret Millionaire" Leaves $7 Million Fortune to Lake Forest College

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No one realized that a little old lady who lived in a small, nondescript cottage was actually a millionaire. In fact, Grace Groner owned no car and worked as secretary for most of her life. However, she amassed a $7 million fortune from a profitable $180 purchase of three shares of Abbott Laboratories stock and from maintaining a frugal lifestyle.

Grace left her fortune to Lake Forest College, as well as her home after her recent death at 100 years old. She was a 1931 graduate of the school, despite her start as an orphan, and became a secretary for Abbott Laboratories that same year. She lived through the Great Depression and was especially restrained with her money—shopping at rummage sales for her clothing, and walking everywhere instead of using a car.

The money is going into a foundation that will enable many of Lake Forest’s 1,300 students to pursue internships or study abroad trips. Grace’s home will be used as housing for Lake Forest College students who will benefit from the programs funded by her request.