Entertaining real-life stories with valuable lessons on how to succeed in business and in life
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 May 19th, 2015

Delmer Kallberg: A working man who surprisingly donated $3.3 million to help skid row charities.

Delmer Kallberg
Delmer Kallberg  
Photo: L.A. Times

When Delmer passed away at the age of 98 in 2013, no-one knew he had so much money.

What follows is the story of a grumpy man who not only built a fortune but had a heart of gold.

Delmer grew up during the Great Depression, and after his dad died, he and his mother and his three siblings struggled in very hard times, a struggle he never got over.

It made him extremely frugal, but it also taught him to hold in his heart the people who were down and out.

During World War ll, Delmer served on the USS Ticonderoga when on January 21st, 1945 the ship was hit by two kamikaze pilots.

After a series of explosions, 144 sailors were dead and 200 more were injured including Delmer, who as a result became hearing impaired, an affliction that lasted for the rest of his life.

Years later as an attorney for the Veterans Administration (VA), Delmer provided veterans with legal services, and in 1960 he bought a small home in what is now the fashionable Mar Vista area of Los Angeles.

During this time, Delmer also married a woman whose son Jeffrey he raised as his own.

But the marriage didn't last, and Jeffrey had trouble connecting with his incommunicative, frugal father.

For many years the two were estranged.

Jeffrey relocated nearly 3,000 miles from Los Angeles to Philadelphia, where at the University of Pennsylvania he became a music professor and associate dean for Arts & Letters.

When Delmer was in his mid - 90's, he was hospitalized from a fall. After he returned home to convalesce, Jeffrey began visiting him, and the gap between father and son began to close.

Previously unbeknownst to Jeffrey, Delmer had kept clippings of Jeffrey's accomplishments and proudly shared them with those he knew.

Jeffrey in turn showed Delmer pictures of his family, including his son.

When Delmer passed away, it was Jeffrey who handled his estate. To his surprise, Delmer had made several million dollars through wise stock investments and from the value of his home.

Delmer's will was generous to Jeffrey, and it left $500,000 to the Los Angeles VA.

But here was the biggest surprise, the final paragraph of Delmer's will:

"If there are any funds remaining they shall be distributed to the various charitable organizations on the so called skidrow." It turned out to be $3.3 million for skid row charities, 30 charities in all.

For those charities wanting to know more about Delmer, Jeffrey provided a short bio, and closed it by saying:

"My father was not a man who made friends easily. But he felt strongly that one of the purposes of his life was to fight for the 'little guy' (as he termed the most indigent of his clients), and it was in this realm that he most easily allowed his humanity to show through."

Editor's Note: To learn more, click here. To learn more about the USS Ticonderoga http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/USS_Ticonderoga_(CV-14)

In the next KazanToday: The family that hosted a banquet for 200 homeless people.

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