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Sylvia Bloom worked as a secretary at the same New York City law firm for most of her life. A practical woman and a hard worker, to the outside world she was modest and lived a frugal lifestyle—but she had a secret practice no one knew about.
She earned a meager annual income, never talked about money, and wasn’t living the ‘high life’. She was never showy and didn’t want to call attention to herself.
“She was a child of the Depression and she knew what it was like not to have money..” Bloom’s niece Jane Lockshin told The New York Times. “She had great empathy for other people who were needy and wanted everybody to have a fair shake.”
Secretaries, in those days, ran their boss’s lives, including their investments. Whenever she would see her boss make a stock pick— and purchase it for him—she would buy the same stock for herself, but in smaller amounts befitting her secretary’s salary.
She kept track of all the investments until she finally retired at age 96. When she died shortly thereafter, it was discovered that Ms. Bloom had amassed a huge fortune.
She never told anyone about it, but before her retirement from Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton, she had stashed away over nine million dollars.
“I don’t think she thought it was anybody’s business but her own,” says Lockshin.
She left some of it to friends and family in her will, but directed that all the rest was to be left to a charity in New York City that cares for the adults and children whom she thought needed it most.
The endowment, $6.24 million to the Henry Street Settlement, is being used to create a college scholarship fund, which is especially fitting since Ms. Bloom always regretted not going to law school – but her incredible donation will ensure that plenty of New Yorkers will have the opportunities she never took—and maybe even graduate from law school!
Share The Inspiring Story of Brains And Kindness With Your Friends – Photo released by Jane Lockshin