The news can be pretty dreary these days. Political fighting, war, poverty, whatever is most depressing appears to get the most attention. But sometimes, you run into stories that make you feel better about your day. Stories that make you positively glad you encountered them. And sometimes, very rarely, those stories are about people with funny names. Today’s subjects fit those categories perfectly.
Both Rev. Vertrue Sharp of Maryville, TN and Mr. Waldemar Klasing of St. Louis, MO lived their lives in relative obscurity, away from the shining lights of television cameras. While they were living lives of extreme thrift, they saved up enormous fortunes that no one knew about and gave it all away at the time of their death. These acts of philanthropy are why we today know these wonderful names.
Rev. Sharp was known as a thrifty man. His sister Louie Mae Pyatt-Walker told the Knoxville News-Sentinel that he to saved “every penny he ever made”. The casual observer would never have known that the preacher had assembled a $2 million estate by the time of his death at age 94 in 1999. To illustrate that thriftiness, when a local restaurant raised the price of their coffee to 75 cents, Sharp refused to buy it, preferring to get a cup for 25 cents at the local fast food restaurant and carry it over to his preferred eatery.
That thriftiness paid off for local charities, as he gave more than $500,000 to two hospitals in Knoxville, Tennessee after his death. He also gave away most of his remaining estate to seven other charities that he had chosen, leaving very little for his own family who he thought were already well enough off. It appears he saved money his entire life only so he could give it all away in the end.
A similar story is that of civil engineer Waldemar Klasing. Klasing lived to the ripe old age of 100 and passed away this May in his home in suburban St. Louis. When he walked his dog around his neighborhood, he wore a rope around his waist instead of a belt, kept the lights in his house low and never used the air conditioning, even during the hottest Midwestern summer days. He even turned off his fridge every two hours to save power. As a result of this impressive thriftiness he had saved up a fortune by the time of his death, and donated more than $1 million to the Washington University School of Engineering where had graduated with his degree in 1938.
Money didn’t mean much to these people. At the end, they made it count. Not only that, but they also had funny names to brighten up our Monday morning. For that, they are cemented in the Funny Names Hall of Fame.