Entertaining and compelling real-life stories with valuable
lessons on how to succeed in business and in life.
The author is successful business, real estate, and media entrepreneur Dick Kazan.
Published on October 20, 2009

Today: Retired at 60, how a working man then made a fortune doing what he loved.

His name was Zygmunt Arendt and not only did he make a fortune, what he did with the money may surprise you, much as it did the city of San Francisco.

Born in Europe 1906, Zygmunt survived two World Wars and the Great Depression and he knew what it was like to struggle to put food on the table and keep a roof over his head.

A Polish immigrant, Zygmunt came to America and settled in San Francisco during the 1950’s to make a new life for himself.

A quiet, unpretentious man, he lived in a small house in a working class neighborhood and held a job as a rail car inspector until his retirement at 60 in 1965.

But from harsh lessons learned during the Wars and the Great Depression, Zygmunt didn’t spend his money on lavish vacations or fancy clothes, cars and furniture.

Instead, he was a saver for what he wanted most of all was a sense of financial security.

When he retired, he pursued his hobby full-time, which was investing in stocks. And by investing, he had no Wall Street high risk, get rich quick schemes.

But rather that of a conservative man who invested in blue chip firms such as AT&T and the Baby Bells. A life long bachelor, Zygmunt reinvested most of his pension and dividends in more stocks.

Zygmunt had never made many friends and when he passed away at 92 in 1998, it seemed to be nothing out of the ordinary. He was just another person alone in the world.

That is until his dividend checks began piling up. It turned out he had built a $4.5 million fortune.

Now our story gets even more interesting.

Zygmunt used to visit City Hall and speak with officials about what he could do to help the city’s poor people, for like them, he understood what it was like to be down and out.

After he died, his handwritten will dropped a bombshell. He left all of his money to the city with the understanding that city officials would use it to help the poor.

Because Zygmunt had no single stock broker or computerized records and hand wrote all of his records in notebooks; it took the city years to process his will.

During the process they sold his small home in 1999 for $249,000.

And they collected the stock dividends and added them to the estate, as the stocks kept growing in value. When the city sold off his portfolio a few years ago, it was at the peak of the market and his estate had grown to $6 million.

In the meantime from all the publicity, Zygmunt’s brother and a nephew filed a claim on his estate which the city settled for $900,000. That left more than $5 million for charity.

So what became of all that money? This year the city proudly opened the Zygmunt Arendt House, 47 brand new studio apartments for formerly homeless senior citizens.

These are aged people who used to live in shelters or on the street, but thanks to Zygmunt; they now have lovely new apartment homes.

It cost $3.8 million of Zygmunt’s money to buy the property and build the units. The residents pay a small portion of their Social Security checks to live there and to maintain the facility

And there is more good news. Over a million dollars remains to help those in dire straits, this time the focus being needy children.

All of this is possible because in the latter 32 years of his life, Zygmunt did what he really enjoyed; investing his money and watching it grow, as he became financially secure.

And then with his passing, he realized his lifelong dream of helping those in need, making a real difference in their lives. For this quiet man, seemingly without family or friends, had a huge depth of compassion for those whose situation would otherwise have appeared hopeless.

Success Tip of the Week: Perhaps you too could regularly put a few dollars aside to invest as you build your financial security. And if you are so inclined you might designate some of that money to eventually go to those in need.

In the next KazanToday: How a woman built a successful career starting at the age of 65.

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Many of these short, inspirational success stories are about people from all walks of life who overcame seemingly insurmountable obstacles to achieve remarkable results. These stories contain practical advice and a recipe for success for each of these renowned individuals. Some of their stories may help you to avoid some of the costly and time consuming mistakes that many of us make in life and at work. Learn from some of history's greatest winners on how to become a winner yourself, no matter what the obstacle, and no matter how daunting the task before you may seem. Good luck!
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