Modest millionaire leaves megafortune to Seattle hospital, other charities

Yahoo News

Jack MacDonald wasn't a flashy man. He clipped coupons. His sweaters had holes. He used his senior citizen bus pass for discounts.

But what MacDonald lacked in flash, he more than made up for in generosity. The Seattle Times reports that MacDonald, who passed away in September at 98, left a fortune worth $187.6 million to Seattle Children’s Research Institute, the University of Washington School of Law and the Salvation Army.

The story behind his gifts recently went public on the Seattle Children's hospital site. Seattle Children's will get about 40 percent of the charitible trust's yearly income, the largest donation in the hospital's 106-year history. The remaining 60 percent will be split equally between the Salvation Army and the University of Washington, where MacDonald earned his law degree.

MacDonald never had children of his own, according to the Seattle Times. He married later in life, and his wife, Mary, had two grown children of her own. But he found great importance in supporting the treatment and cure of childhood diseases.

MacDonald's fortune, in part, came from the stock market. He took his investment cues from his parents, who left him a nest egg that MacDonald carefully grew until his death.

His profile from Seattle Children's explained that MacDonald could quote stock prices on a daily basis and "never splurged on himself and used and preserved household items that originally belonged to his parents and late wife."

“Jack went out of his way to look poor, partly because he didn’t want to be badgered by people who wanted money,” his stepdaughter Regen Dennis told the Seattle Times.

Earlier this year, when he took a fall and was rushed to the hospital with a head injury, he insisted that the doctors use generic drugs.

From the Seattle Times:

“It’s so Jack,” said Dennis. “The neurosurgeon is trying to keep the man alive, and he says, ‘I don’t want those expensive brand-name drugs.’ ”

Yahoo News spoke with Lorraine del Prado, a longtime friend of MacDonald’s and the senior director of development at Seattle Children’s Hospital Foundation. She said the hospital knew about MacDonald's wealth but agreed to keep it a secret, at his request.

He would frequently attend luncheons with hospital staff where he loved learning about the hospital's research. "He used only two blazers," del Prado said. "It was either a dark blue blazer with gold buttons, or there was this red plaid blazer. He was always very happy. He had a wonderful grin."

"At his apartment, all his furniture was at least, I'd say, 25 or 30 years old. He had these two carpets, beautiful Persian carpets with very vivid colors. I asked him how long he'd had them. He said, 'Oh my mother bought those in 1937.' I said, 'How do you keep them looking so vibrant?' He said, 'Oh, in the afternoon, Lorraine, I always lower the shades to protect them from the sun.'"

“He has left an amazing legacy that will positively impact the lives of countless people for generations to come,” del Prado said on MacDonald's hospital profile. "Jack’s wish was to be remembered as a philanthropist and as a steward of his family’s trust, and he has accomplished that goal."