Monday, July 27, 2009

Homeless Atheist leaves Millions of Dollars to Charities

There's a great story over at NPR about a homeless man who surprised them by leaving them $4 million dollars when he died. He had to money to live luxuriously, but instead he lived the simplest life possible:

"When Walters retired, he evidently retired from the world of material comforts. He didn't have a car.

"He just gave up all of the material things that we think we have to have," Belle says. "You know, I don't know how we gauge happiness. What's happy for you might not be happy for me. I never heard him complain."

Evidently, among his few possessions was a radio. Hence those announcements listeners hear now and again on NPR stations."
He also donated smaller sums of $400,000 to various non-profit organizations, including a Catholic mission where his best friend worked.
"Belle stayed with Walters when he was ill. She became his nurse and ultimately the executor of his estate — as well as one of the beneficiaries — despite fundamental differences between them.

"He was an atheist and I'm a very profound practicing Catholic, and I'd never met an atheist," Belle says. "And that just blew my mind that somebody could not believe in the Lord.""

I really love seeing stuff like this, but especially when it involves an atheist. It's only more proof that you don't need to be religious to be a good, charitable, self sacrificing human being.

And an extra special bonus? He was a Purdue alumnus! Go Boilermakers for producing the occasional awesome person.


  1. NPR, atheism, and charity. Three great tastes that taste great together. Well, the dead guy might make put the flavor off a bit, but I'm not complaining. This story warmed my heart.

    Rest well in the assured lack of a traditional afterlife, Walters.

  2. Why do you love seeing stuff like this? Are you like the Cameron in House, who love people who are damaged? And why does being good have to mean self-sacrifice and charitable?

  3. Hate to be a pedant, but he was an alumnUS of Purdue. 'Cause he was one person.

    It's a nice story, and I'm glad to hear NPR got all that money. NPR=<3

  4. Thanks ali, I'm not infallible when it comes to grammar =)

    And Paul, I guess it's just refreshing to see someone happy living a simple life, and making other peoples lives better because of that. I don't think I could ever go as extreme as him, but that doesn't mean I can't appreciate what he's done.

    And I'm insulted that you called me Cameron! Boo hiissssss

  5. Hey now, Cameron was flippin' hot...not as hot as Thirteen, woof, but hot none the less.

  6. Jen,

    Well, what I don't understand is why does he need to donate the money in order to live a simple life. You can be rich and live a simple life without giving money away. It makes no sense at all, unless he is an altruist - a person who thinks it is a virtue to do things beneficial to others and a vice to do things beneficial to himself. Either way, I think he's damaged because his action is irrational.

    Since he is irrational and you said that you love seeing stuff like this, I had to conclude that you love damaged people and their deeds, like Cameron. I was just sharing an observation and didn't mean to insult you. I'm sorry.

    Maybe you are more like Cuddy because you Boo hiissssss me, which is very similar to reactions of Cuddy between House and her's interactions. lol.

    You still haven't answer my question. why does being good have to mean self-sacrifice and charitable?

  7. Paul, he DIED. Therefor he gave the money away.

  8. Jen,

    OK. I read it wrong. But that still doesn't make sense. He had millions of dollars and chose to be homeless. He donated money to various non-profit organizations, instead of using money to buy things he wanted or buy time to do things he enjoyed.

    Wait. No, he had been giving money away before his death. It's you who is not making sense. His death isn't the cause of giving money away.

    *reading his story at NPR website*

    It isn't homeless. He lived in a senior home because living in a fancy house isn't what he enjoyed. Living in a senior home saves money and makes it easy for him to find friends. I've met retired rich people in real life that live in a senior home before.

    He gave money to non-profit organizations he likes, so he is not self-sacrificing, either. The story isn't as amazing as it seems. Everything he had done in his life is crystal clear to me. I can easily explain the whole thing. Why did you think he's self-sacrificing? And you still haven't answer my original question.

  9. No, he WAS homeless. He came to visit his friend at the senior center.

    "Then he told her that he had no home. She heard that he slept on the grounds of the senior center. He told her he ate at the hospital and used a telephone there or at the center."

    Grounds. As in outside probably under a tree somewhere.

    Why does self sacrificing and charitable mean good? Because the definition of good is not being a selfish jackass. Now stop bugging me just because you can't read and you can't comprehend someone's selfless actions.

  10. Well, strictly speaking, he's not homeless. He slept on the grounds of the senior center.

    Some people love sleeping on the grounds. When the weather is hot, the ground is the only place that can be cool if there is no air conditioner. You should try it some time. It's great.

  11. I did that at our graduation party. It was quite relaxing.

  12. When the weather is cold, it is still fun to sleep on the ground. You just need a blanket.
    I've done it quite often, especially when I travel. The biggest travel expense is the hotel. If you travel by car alone, it saves a lot of money to sleep in a car and take a shower once a week. You can keep yourself clean and smell ok by cleaning yourself with diaper wipes. Canned foods and cereals are cheap and efficient. You only need a fancy meal every few days.

  13. Well, you really can't do that where I live, because when the weather is cold, it tends to be in the -10 or -20 range, in that ancient scale known as "Fahrenheit". However, I am quite adept at survival camping.

  14. Veritas,

    I've done it -10F to -20F in Vancouver, Canada. :-)

  15. And I've done -25 C in Nova Scotia, that doesn't mean I want to do it all the time.

  16. Veritas,

    I'm not saying we should do it all the time. Sleeping in cold weather once a while can increase our body's endurance to cold temperature. It's like exercising.

  17. ...Belle says. "And that just blew my mind that somebody could not believe in the Lord.""...

    I'm amazed that someone in the 21st Century and intelligent enough to be a trained nurse did not know that some people do not believe gods exist. In the UK, I doubt anyone would have this level of 'ignorance' about believes...presumably she knows that SIkhs, Hindus etc exist?

    Although I think the blowing of her mind would merely be a little...pffft...