98-year-old Russ Gremel has lived a long, simple life.
He was never married, didn’t have any kids, and lived in the same brick bungalow in Chicago for 95 years.
Gremel served in World War II, went to law school, and was retired by age 45. While he didn’t have a family of his own, many people in the community considered him a part of theirs. He served as a Boy Scout scoutmaster for more than 60 years, and was loved by everyone who knew him.
Not only did he enjoy helping people, but he had a passion for animals and wildlife as well. That’s why he decided to donate his $2 million life savings to the Illinois Audubon Society to be used to create a 4o0-acre wildlife refuge called the Gremel Wildlife Sanctuary.
Gremel’s large fortune grew over the years after he bought $1,000 worth of Walgreens stock seven decades ago.
Illinois Audubon Society executive director Jim Herkert was eternally grateful for Gremel’s generous donation and told TODAY that it will have a significant impact on wildlife and on the community.
“It’s incredibly generous,” Herkert told TODAY. “It’s allowing us to protect a really valuable and important piece of property and fulfill one of Russ’ wishes that we could find a place where people could come out and experience nature the way he did as a kid.”
Gremel sadly passed away the following year at 99 years old, but was thankfully able to see his sanctuary dream come to fruition.
Gremel will aways be remembered for his kindness toward both people and animals, and his legacy will live on in the Gremel Wildlife Sanctuary.