Grace Groner lived a frugal life in a one-bedroom home in a Chicago suburb.

But when she died at age 100 in January, her attorney informed Lake Forest College that Groner — known for buying clothes from rummage sales and walking instead of buying a car — had left her alma mater $7 million.

When the attorney told the school how much her donation would be, the college president said "Oh, my God."

The millions came from a $180 stock purchase Groner made in 1935. They will be used for a foundation to fund student internships and study-abroad programs. The money should bring the school more than $300,000 a year.

By the time Groner was 12, both of her parents had died. She and her twin sister were raised by friends of their parents, who paid for them to attend Lake Forest College. Groner graduated in 1931 and worked for 43 years as a secretary at Abbott Laboratories.

"She did not have the (material) needs that other people have," said her attorney, William Marlatt. "She could have lived in any house in Lake Forest but she chose not to. ... She enjoyed other people, and every friend she had was a friend for who she was. They weren't friends for what she had."

Groner never married and had no children. She traveled after she retired and volunteered at the First Presbyterian Church. She gave anonymous gifts to needy local residents and donated $180,000 to Lake Forest College for a scholarship program.

"She was very sensitive to people not having a whole lot," said Pastor Kent Kinney of First Presbyterian Church. "Grace would see those people, would know them, and she would make gifts."

The college also is to receive Groner's small home. It is be called "Grace's Cottage" and become living quarters for women who receive scholarships.


Information from: Chicago Tribune,