C'mon Get Happy: Secretary Amasses Multi-Million $ Fortune

Two years ago, 96-year-old Sylvia Bloom passed away in Brooklyn, New York. She lived a long, fruitful life, working at the same law firm as a secretary for 67 years -- and amassing a fortune of millions of dollars, without anyone knowing it.

News of the surprising fortune broke recently as Sylvia's estate donated more than $6 million of that fortune to the Henry Street Settlement, a New York City charity group that helps underprivileged kids. It was the largest single gift from an individual in the group’s 125-year history. The Henry Street Settlement now serves more than 60,000 people and provides an array of services in addition to its education support, including health care programs and transitional housing.

For most of her life, Sylvia lived in a small, rent-controlled apartment and took the subway to work. Her niece said she came from a time where legal secretaries ran their bosses' lives, so when her boss would tell her to buy stock, she would buy his and then buy a smaller amount for herself (living on a secretary's salary and all...) She had accounts in three investment firms and 11 banks when she passed away at the age of 96. Her portfolio grew and grew.  She was known for being frugal--taking the subway and city buses. Even September 11th, after the attacks, she did not take a cab home--she walked across the Brooklyn Bridge and then caught a city bus home...


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