I’m no Wall Street hedge fund manager, but even I know that investing in nature is a losing proposition. We’re over here pulling out of the Paris Accord, fracking our dicks off in North Dakota, and slaughtering ocean animals like they pose a threat to national security, and here comes 98-year-old Boy Scout, Russ Gremel, pissing $2 million dollars away into a 395-acre park. What an awful investment. Apparently Russ isn’t aware that our planet is a giant spinning potato and we’re doing everything in our power to twice bake it. That said, and Russ’ shitty investment aside, I absolutely love everything about this guy.
In 1947, he invested $1,000 in Walgreens. Not because he thought the small Chicago chain had unparalleled leadership and a cutthroat corporate growth strategy, but because, as he told the Chicago Tribune, “I figured women would always need makeup.” That’s incredible.
I read that and immediately felt like the drill sergeant from Forrest Gump.
“God damn it, Russ! You’re a Goddamn genius! That is the most outstanding answer I have ever heard. You must have a goddamn IQ of 160.”
I mean, it’s so simple it’s magic. Take that Master’s in Finance from Cornell and your summer internship at Goldman Sachs and blow it out your ass. Russ just cracked the NASDAQ. Find something women will always buy and then bet the house. ROI on a million, actually two. That’s how you build wealth.
From USA Today:
The large stash of cash results in part from Gremel’s simple lifestyle. He has lived for almost 95 years in the same house, which he inherited from his parents.
“I’m a very simple man,” Gremel told the Tribune as he smoked a pipe on his front porch.
Of course he was smoking a pipe. Classic Russ. Smoking a pipe on his prehistoric porch like a Civil War general. He probably had Skynyrd playing in the background, too. This guy is such a real man it drives me crazy. “Sure, I’m worth millions, but more importantly I carved this pipe from an old oak tree I cut down with a pocketknife.” This guy is one hundred percent American man. He even claimed to practice “Abraham Lincoln law.”
I Googled Abraham Lincoln law, and guess what? It doesn’t exist. No record or description of it anywhere. Russ strikes again. “Yeah, I did some Abe Lincoln law, a bit of Thomas Jefferson inventions, and a little Henry Ford assembly line manufacturing.” What is this guy talking about? Nobody knows. Whatever he did, though, it was good enough for him to retire at age 45. At age 45, my dad was in full financial panic mode coupled with a mid-life crisis wherein he was buying jet skis and hiding them from my mother in his single friend’s garage. And then there’s Russ at 45: fully retired, kicking back in a rocking chair, watching his Walgreens stock explode while smoking tobacco in his childhood home.
After Russ retired, he dedicated the rest of his life to the Boy Scouts, which is not creepy. And, in fact, many of his former scouts were on hand to attend his $2M nature preserve opening.
More than a dozen of those attending the preserve’s opening on Sunday were Eagle Scouts Gremel had mentored, ranging from teens to a 72-year-old who came to honor Gremel’s 60-plus years in the scouts.
“Every one of us here has been touched by Russ,” said Francis O’Byrne, who joined Gremel’s troop in 1971. “There’s story after story after story; it’s a ripple effect.”
More than a dozen! What a turnout! I love that one of Russ’ pupils is now 72 years old. Do you realize how exceptionally old you have to be to have a 72-year-old subject? Russ belongs in a museum.
Also, just a word of advice for his boy Francis: when discussing the Boy Scouts, maybe don’t say that your mentor touched everyone and it created a ripple effect. That makes it sound like a Catholic Church scandal. Maybe just say “he made a positive impact on everyone’s lives” and leave it at that. Unless he did touch everyone, in which case I’m totally out of line.
Whether Russ touched boys or not, he now has 395 acres of protected land named after him. Russ’ 2 million dollar donation ensures that his name and memory will live on forever, or at least until the state builds an oil pipeline through the heart of his sanctuary..
[via USA Today]
Image via Shutterstock