Most of us have heard a lot about BerkshireHathaway
Miss McCarty was born in Mississippi in 1908. She lived for three-quarters of a century in a small, simple house, washing clothes for a living. Over the years, she put aside whatever money she could, plunking her savings into local banks.
By the mid-1990s, she decided to give most of her life's savings to the University of Southern Mississippi. ("I just figured the money would do [scholarship recipients] a lot more good than it would me.") The impressive sum of $150,000 bowled over school officials and was established as the Oseola McCarty Scholarship Fund.
Miss McCarty's life imparts valuable lessons to Fools who are paying attention. For starters, we learn how much can be accomplished by investing even small amounts. We also learn that in an effort to become our family's most beloved ancestor or a charitable cause's most beloved stranger, we should invest as Foolishly as possible.
Her own words are also inspiring: "A smart person plans for the future. You never know what kind of emergency will come up.... You have to take responsibility for yourself. It wasn't hard. I didn't buy things I didn't need.... The Lord helped me, and he'll help you, too.... It's an honor to be blessed like that."
Miss McCarty died in 1999. Since I'd written about her before, one of her bankers wrote to me, saying: "I have often tried to explain to folks that Miss McCarty's most remarkable feat was living as long as she did. She also found a way to save a little bit of money every week. Time was able to turn even the modest returns of her early investments into hundreds of thousands of dollars. If we had been able to introduce her to equities earlier, she would have left millions instead of thousands."
For more opportunities to give, check out our annual Foolanthropy campaign.