Every few years a major publication will come out with a story where someone who had a normal job their entire life died with a sizable estate.  This past weekend, it was WSJ’s turn to discuss such a situation.  The article, behind a paywall, is titled, “Route to an $8 Million Portfolio Started with Frugal Living” is about a man, Mr. Ronald Read that despite being a janitor and gas attendant for most of his life amassed a large fortune by almost anyone’s standards,

Mr. Read, a longtime resident of Brattleboro, Vt., died in June at the age of 92. His friends were shocked when they learned his estate was valued at almost $8 million. Long widowed and with two stepchildren, he left most of his money to a local hospital and library.

So how did he manage to pull it off? Besides being a good stock picker, he displayed remarkable frugality and patience—which gave him many years of compounded growth.

He lived modestly, working as a maintenance worker and janitor at a J.C. Penney store after a long stint at a service station that was owned in part by his brother. Those who knew him talk of how he at times used safety pins to hold his coat together and sometimes parked his 2007 Toyota Yaris far from where he was going to avoid having to feed the parking meter.

Besides being a good stock picker? He was able to be in the top .01% of all estates in the country and the author wants to focus on frugality? The fact that he had a 2007 car at the time of his death is not at all interesting when compared to what he probably did in in terms of investing.

In an odd turn of events, the article discusses at length the fact that Mr. Read held paper stock certificates, and how that might not be possible today – LIKE IT MATTERS AT ALL?! Where the focus should have been was the type of stocks he bought.  The author only provides the following information,

Mr. Read owned at least 95 stocks at the time of his death, many of which he had held for years, if not decades. They were spread across a variety of sectors, including railroads, utility companies, banks, health care, telecom and consumer products. He avoided technology stocks.

Friends say Mr. Read typically bought shares of companies he was familiar with and those that paid out hefty dividends. When dividend checks came in the mail, he plowed the money back into more shares, Ms. Bokum (an advisor who didn’t run this portfolio) says.

Among his longtime holdings were blue-chip stalwarts such as Procter & Gamble,J.P. Morgan Chase,General Electric and Dow Chemical. When he died, he also had large stakes in J.M. Smucker,CVS Health and Johnson & Johnson.

How about spending some in depth into information regarding how he invested because that is the story! Not that he might have saved a few bucks by not using metered parking  The Executor should have all the information as to when he bought what shares, and in what amounts, share that information! Maybe someone can determine what metrics he was using because it is likely he had some type of system.

I know that type of piece would take a tremendous more time than the fluff piece offered, but it is the freaking Wall Street Journal!