Eighty-seven-year-old Wilbur Wainwright, the owner of a window installation company, based in Ottumwa Iowa, began the business sixty-three years ago. He married once, divorced within a year, and never had any children. He never remarried again.
He never attended church, never contributed to any charitable organization within his community and his business closed only for Thanksgiving and Christmas.
Mr. Wainwright wanted his employees to address him as “Mr. Wainwright,” he never associated with any of his employees and his longest serving employee Frances Witherspoon has managed Mr. Wainwright’s office since her husband Edgar Witherspoon died. Mr. Witherspoon managed the office before his death of a cardiac arrest seated in the same chair Frances Witherspoon currently uses.
The other constant in Mr. Wainwright life was his attorney Brian Gregory who has worked for Mr. Wainwright since the business began.
The Monday before Thanksgiving, Mr. Gregory appeared at Mr. Wainwright’s office to tell him that he will be retiring January first, and Mr. Wainwright needed to find another attorney.
This news upset Mr. Wainwright because he did not want to work with anyone else. The meeting was so contentious that neither man left the meeting saying goodbye to one another.
One week later, Mr. Gregory died in his sleep next to his wife of 65-years. The funeral was attended by everyone in town except Mr. Wainwwright.
A day after the funeral, all of the documents held by his former attorney were dropped off by courier. It was Mrs. Witherspoon who took the portfolio of papers dating back to when the business began.
It was then Mr. Wainwright discovered the death of the only person in his life who knew anything about his business. Before Mrs. Witherspoon left the office, she announced her retirement and gave her two-week notice.
Mr. Wainwright was shocked, and could not believing her announcement but said nothing as Mrs. Witherspoon left his office.
For two weeks Mr. Wainwright arrived at his office and of course said nothing to anyone. When Mrs. Witherspoon did not appear for work two weeks later. Mr. Wainwright called a meeting for all of his employees at the end of the day.
At the meeting the first of its kind for any of the employees who could remember. Mr. Wainwright explained he will close the business for good after their meeting. He will mail their checks to their homes, and he did not know what would happen to the business he has been associated with all his life.
The announcement shocked and stunned all 57 employees. However, many of the employees were happy to enjoy the holiday season with time off to be with their families.
By January 10th, Mr. Wainwright’s neighbors became concerned when they did not see him moving about his home. The police were called and discovered that he died Christmas Day. He was found seated in his office chair where he hand wrote his last Will & Testament. Mr. Wainwright left his entire estate, including his home and business to the city of Ottumwa Iowa.
He wrote the following statement and asked to be posted in the local newspaper.
“I was a moody man and did not celebrate birthdays, holidays, or belonged to any religion nor did I make friends or help any local charities. But, I loved my hometown, of Ottumwa Iowa and I give all that I own to the city I have called home my entire life, Ottumwa Iowa.”