Raymond Fay, a retired science teacher, lived a solitary life in a sparse apartment with no phone, no television set and no car. He kept index cards detailing the thousands of books he had read.
Similarly, Mary McGinnis’ house had a broken refrigerator and no heat or air conditioning. She took a bus every day to a senior center to eat free meals, and in winter, she wore several coats to keep warm.
And yet, when Fay and McGinnis - both elderly, both single - died within the past six months, they left behind fortunes.
McGinnis willed $1 million to Our Mother of Sorrows Roman Catholic Church, Fay a $1.5 million endowment to the Free Library of Philadelphia.
Fay, who died in December at age 92, retired in 1969 from a high-school teaching job that never paid him more than $11,400.
His gift - the biggest individual donation in the library’s history - is expected to generate $50,000 to $70,000 a year in interest to be used toward renovation and installation of computers in the library’s 53 branches.
Ninety percent of Fay’s money was invested in municipal bonds when he died, said Eileen Thiel, his estate administrator at PNC Bank.
McGinnis, a former secretary who was 87 when she died of congestive heart failure in February, had $33,000 in cash and $450,000 in government bonds stuffed in a tin box in an old cast-iron stove, where she also kept a copy of her will.