Happy Moral Monday! This morning I wanted to share a story that warmed my heart when I read about it on NPR last week — a homeless man leaving millions to several non-profits, including NPR.
When NPR’s Richard Siegel heard his station listing a funding credit in the name of Richard Walter’s estate, he was curious who this mystery man was. Naturally, he Googled him. What he found was a surprising story; Walter’s (who died two years ago) had been an engineer from AlliedSignal Corp.; an honors graduate of Purdue with a master’s degree; and a Marine. But when he retired, he gave up more than a career, he gave up all his material possessions — he became homeless. He slept on the grounds of a senior center and ate at a hospital.
Walters didn’t become an aimless, shell of a man we so often imagine homeless people to be. He was involved in investing, and paid his income taxes. He had friends — good friends such as Rita Belle, a nurse he met at a senior center and who eventually became the executer of his estate.
And at the end of this material-free life, he split his $4 million between different causes. NPR received $400,000, as did several other non-profits, including the Catholic mission in Phoenix where Rita Belle works (Belle also received a bequest).
Growing up, I would read Hindu
stories about shedding one’s earthly confinements to reach Moksha, the final
release from one’s worldly conception of self. That sounds great, I would think,
but what about those you leave behind? Wasn’t it ultimately selfish to shed your responsibilities in order to achieve something
solely for yourself?
for the world he left behind.
I doubt he would appreciate the religious meaning I take from his actions.
Still, I consider him well-worth a mention on Moral Monday.