The people of Hinsdale, New Hampshire, were used to seeing Geoffrey Holt around town wearing threadbare clothes and riding his lawn mower. He certainly didn’t advertise his millionaire status.
The mobile home park caretaker did odd jobs for others and rarely left town. He taught driver’s ed to high schoolers, but resorted to his bike and later his mower for transportation.
Mr. Holt died at the age of 82 in June. Local officials learned in September that he left the town $3.8 million in his will. Holt requested the money benefit the community in the areas of education, health, recreation, and culture.
Hinsdale is a Connecticut River town sandwiched between Vermont and Massachusetts. The area features hiking and fishing opportunities, small businesses, and the oldest continually operating post office, which dates back to 1816.
Holt’s generous bequest is a huge gift to the community of 4,200 people. Residents suggest using the money to upgrade the town hall clock, restore buildings, and set up an online drivers’ education course. Another proposal is to buy a new ballot counting machine in honor of Holt. He was a faithful voter.
Holt was a private man who lived in the mobile home park where he served as groundskeeper. He had very little furniture, no TV, and no computer. He filled his rooms with hundreds of model cars and train sets. He also collected books about history. Henry Ford and World War II were some of his favorite subjects. His vast record collection included the works of Handel and Mozart.
Edwin “Smokey” Smith was Holt’s best friend and the executor of his estate. Smith knew that Holt used to work as a production manager at a grain mill in nearby Brattleboro, Vermont. Holt would often find a quiet place to sit near a brook and study finance. He invested his earnings based on his research.
Holt confided to Smith that his investments were doing better than he had ever expected. He wasn’t sure what to do with the money. Smith suggested Holt remember Hinsdale. But Smith was dumbfounded when he learned Holt left the town everything he had.
Steve Diorio is the chairperson of the town selectboard. He says, “I know he didn’t have a whole lot of family, but nonetheless, to leave it to the town. . . . It’s a tremendous gift.”