Geoffrey Holt, the caretaker of a mobile home park in Hinsdale, New Hampshire, was known for his simple and unassuming lifestyle. He would often be seen around town in worn-out clothes, riding his lawn mower or reading a newspaper. Despite being a former driver’s ed teacher, Holt chose to give up driving and instead rode a bicycle or used his mower for transportation. His mobile home was sparsely furnished, lacking a TV or computer. However, after his death earlier this year, it was revealed that Holt had been a multimillionaire and had left his entire fortune to the community of Hinsdale.
Holt’s will contained brief instructions, directing $3.8 million to the town of Hinsdale to benefit various areas such as education, health, recreation, and culture. The news came as a surprise to many, including Steve Diorio, the chairperson of the town selectboard, who often saw Holt around town. Diorio expressed his gratitude for Holt’s generous gift, stating that it was a tremendous contribution to the town.
The money is expected to have a significant impact on the small Connecticut River town, which offers abundant outdoor activities such as hiking and fishing. Some proposals for utilizing the funds include upgrading the town hall clock, restoring buildings, purchasing a new ballot counting machine, or establishing an online driver’s education course. Organizations will be able to apply for grants through the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation.
Hinsdale’s town administrator, Kathryn Lynch, emphasized the importance of utilizing the funds prudently, in line with Holt’s frugal lifestyle. Holt’s best friend and executor of his estate, Smokey Smith, had been aware of Holt’s wealth and suggested that he remember the town in his will. Smith described Holt’s varied interests, including collecting model cars and train sets and having an extensive record collection.
Holt’s sister, Alison Holt, revealed that her brother had a learning disability but was intelligent in other ways. Their parents were educators and instilled in them the importance of not wasting money and investing wisely. Alison expressed her sadness that her brother didn’t indulge himself more but noted that he was content with a simple life and didn’t want to draw attention to himself.
Holt’s stroke a couple of years ago limited his mobility, but he still found joy in lawn mowing, which he saw as a way to connect with the outdoors and serve the people in the mobile home park. Following his stroke, he worked with a therapist who described him as thoughtful and intellectual. Holt’s generosity has brought attention to the town of Hinsdale, which residents hope will receive more recognition as a result of his gift.