98-Year-Old Donates $2 Million in Walgreens Stock to Create Wildlife Refuge
By James O'Hare
Some people feel the need to let everyone know they have money. They talk about it incessantly or constantly remind people of their wealth by putting their name on buildings in gaudy letters. Others prefer to put those dollars to good use.
About 70 years ago, Russ Gremel made a wise investment.
The Chicago, Illinois native bought roughly $1,000 worth of stock in a burgeoning pharmacy chain. That chain was Walgreens, which has since grown into a drug retail giant worth more than $62 billion.
Gremel is now 98 years old and his stock is worth more than $2 million. But rather than cashing out and living extravagantly in the time he has left, Gremel is making sure the world is a little better for the next generation, by donating his stocks to help establish a 400-acre wildlife refuge, the Chicago Tribune reported.
"I'm a very simple man," Gremel told the Tribune. "I never let anybody know I had that kind of money."
Gremel has no wife or children to leave the money to. He's lived in the same Jefferson Park home for 95 years. Growing up poor (his family lost everything after the 1929 stock market crash) taught him to enjoy life and be completely content living modestly. Nonetheless, he retired from practicing law at age 45.
Though he had immense wealth at his fingertips, he had no desire to spend it needlessly. At the same time, he sees no use in hoarding the money, letting it sit dormant when it could be put to good use.
"Why not give it to them now when … I have the pleasure and enjoyment of seeing it," he said.
Nature has always been important to Gremel, who spent much of his youth outdoors, hiking and camping. When he was 19, he traveled west across the country, hitchhiking and riding the rails on trains. His odyssey took him through Yellowstone National Park.
It was at that time that he promised himself, "You're not going to die at 70 years of age and say, 'What if?'"
Gremel also cares about mentoring youth, and spent 60 years as a scoutmaster for the Boy Scouts of America.
A year ago, he donated his stocks to the Illinois Audubon Society, which used the money to buy a 400-acre property from Augustana College. As a thank you, the reserve will be dedicated to Gremel on June 7.
"It's incredibly generous," said Jim Herkert, the executive director of the Audubon Society. "It's allowing us to protect a really valuable and important piece of property and fulfill one of Russ' wishes that we could find a place where people could come out and experience and enjoy nature the way he did as a kid."
But for Gremel, the donation has nothing to do with generosity and everything to do with a sense of duty to help other people.
"You have to do some good in this world," Gremel said. "That's what money is for."
Who needs to put their name on a building, when someone else has already put it on a park?
The United States passed 200,000 deaths due to COVID-19 Tuesday and experts warn that number may double before the end of the year as an autumn surge in cases starts, according to USA Today.
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By Ilana Cohen
Four years ago, Jacob Abel cast his first presidential vote for Donald Trump. As a young conservative from Concord, North Carolina, the choice felt natural.
But this November, he plans to cast a "protest vote" for a write-in candidate or abstain from casting a ballot for president. A determining factor in his 180-degree turn? Climate change.
Fractures Among Young Climate Conservatives<p>While young conservatives have united around the urgency of climate change, they remain divided over how to bring their concerns to the ballot box. Some embrace right-wing <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/biden-attacks-republican-convention/2020/08/24/434e5b46-e66d-11ea-970a-64c73a1c2392_story.html" target="_blank">attacks</a> painting Biden as a "tool of the left" and find his climate agenda "radical." Others can't find a way to justify voting for Trump, even if it means breaking with their party.</p><p>Patrick Mann from Orange County, California, voted for Trump in 2016. But today, he's leading Aggies for Joe at Texas A&M University and is co-founder of Texas Students for Biden. </p><p>Mann grew up watching wildfires ravage his home state, nearly forcing his family to evacuate in 2017. The GOP is failing to "meet the moment" for climate action, Mann said. He's hoping Biden will deliver on a promise to "<a href="https://www.desmoinesregister.com/story/opinion/columnists/caucus/2020/01/06/joe-biden-democrat-president-iowa-caucus-restore-soul-our-nation/2806422001/" target="_blank">restore the soul of our nation</a>." </p><p>Taylor Walker from Pensacola, Florida, is also determined to make her voice heard on climate, including by casting her first-ever vote for president—but not for Biden.</p>
A False Equivalency<p>Young climate conservatives may fear climate denial and delayed climate action, but more than that, they fear the growing political momentum around the Green New Deal, the massive spending it entails and <a href="https://joebiden.com/climate-plan/" target="_blank">Biden's citing of it</a> as a "crucial framing for meeting the climate challenges we face."</p><p>Many don't want to split with their party to support a Democrat whose <a href="https://www.npr.org/2019/09/03/757220130/joe-biden-on-bipartisanship-gun-control-and-regrets-over-inaction-after-a-traged" target="_blank">allegedly bipartisan intentions</a> they doubt. If stymieing what they consider a radical green agenda means re-electing a climate change denying president, so be it. </p><p>"I'm scared of climate change, but I'm also scared of the Green New Deal and what it means for America," said Ben Mutolo, a republicEN spokesperson and junior at SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry. </p><p>Mutolo felt encouraged by former Ohio Governor John Kasich's <a href="https://www.rollcall.com/2020/08/17/kasich-speech-to-democratic-convention-follows-years-of-building-conservative-credentials/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">appearance</a> at the Democratic National Convention, but he still struggles to see himself voting for Biden. Though the candidate paints himself as a <a href="https://www.latimes.com/politics/story/2020-08-12/harris-biden-different-generation-similar-political-instinct" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">centrist,</a> Mutolo believes he's "cozying up to the ultra-progressive left." </p><p>Mutolo, who wants to see market-based climate solutions like a carbon tax, feels torn between a candidate whose climate plan relies on taking an "<a href="https://joebiden.com/environmental-justice-plan/#" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">All-of-Government approach</a>," and one with no efforts to reign in global warming at all. <span></span></p><p>Leiserowitz said he appreciated how a conservative might feel Biden's climate plan "doesn't jive with their limited government, free-market approach."</p><p>But he sees a strong distinction between voting for a presidential candidate with a <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2020/07/14/us/politics/biden-climate-plan.html" target="_blank">$2 trillion climate plan</a> that includes large renewable energy investments, which have <a href="https://climatecommunication.yale.edu/publications/politics-global-warming-april-2020/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">bipartisan support</a>, and a candidate trying "to take the country in the opposite direction, towards more fossil fuels."</p>
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