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He lived a frugal life. Then he left millions to his N.H. town.

Geoffrey Holt in a collection of family photos provided by his estate. Holt left the town of Hinsdale, N.H., nearly $4 million when he died last June.Family photos courtesy of Ed Smith via AP/Associated Press

Geoffrey Holt, the caretaker of a mobile home park in Hinsdale, New Hampshire, did little to stand out and mostly kept to himself, at least as far as Kathryn Lynch, the town administrator, knew.

"He would sit on Route 119 and kick back and watch the traffic go by," she said. "People really didn't know who he was," she added. "I mean, I didn't even know what his name was."

Holt had blended in for decades in Hinsdale, a town with a population of about 4,000, often sitting on his riding mower in the trailer park where he lived until his death in June at 82.


But he died with a secret that will change Hinsdale for years to come: He was a multimillionaire. And in his will, he had decided to leave all his wealth — $3.8 million — to his adopted hometown.

Lynch found out months after Holt died. She said her reaction was “shock.”

The trailer where Geoffrey Holt lived.Robert F. Bukaty/Associated Press

The arrangement had been struck decades earlier. In 2001, Holt approached the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation, a nonprofit, told it of his intentions and came to an agreement for the group to dole out the funds after his death.

“The unique part is that he kept it quiet,” said Melinda Mosier, an executive with the organization. “He was very unassuming. He just really wanted to give back in a way that was truly about making the community better without any fanfare or recognition on his part.”

Mosier said the terms were that the $3.8 million was to be used to “support projects, programs and organizations that provide health, educational, recreational or cultural benefits to the residents of Hinsdale.”

Hinsdale’s annual budget is roughly $12 million, according to Lynch, so Holt’s donation will have a profound impact. She said that the money could be used to fix the town clock or paint the town hall, but that it would be spent frugally, in the spirit of how Holt lived.


"You hear about those millionaires next door and you just never think you're going to be one of those lucky people that get that million dollars, and we are," she said. "I feel we've won the lottery."

In this photo provided by Ed Smith, Geoffrey Holt rested his leg on top of his riding mower in Hinsdale, N.H., in 2020. Ed Smith/Associated Press

This article originally appeared in The New York Times.