Man's Will Leaves Hidden Wealth to Montana


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Drizzt
November 13, 2005, 02:50 AM
Man's Will Leaves Hidden Wealth to Montana

By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
Published: November 13, 2005

HELENA, Mont., Nov. 12 (AP) - LeRoy Beckman went to secondhand stores for hearing aids and heated only one room of his small house. He drove an old panel truck, favored bib overalls and found Social Security adequate in his old age.

"He looked dirt poor," said his friend Jim McDermand.

But when he died at age 88 in 1997, Mr. Beckman had an estate worth about $3 million. And it turned out that he secretly had a benevolent side. He directed in his will that his money be used to buy land and donate it to the state for use by hunters.

Now the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks is fully realizing Mr. Beckman's legacy. The state is about to formally receive the fourth and final piece of land bought with Mr. Beckman's money, which is now all spent.

The four contiguous tracts, called the Beckman Wildlife Management Area, amount to about 6,500 acres, including grassland, pine and fir trees, gentle slopes, coulees, and the Judith River. The land is inhabited by antelope, wild turkeys, pheasants, foxes, coyotes, raptors, songbirds, an occasional mountain lion and, of particular importance to Mr. Beckman, mule deer.

"It had to be mule-deer habitat, not elk habitat," said Mr. McDermand, a personal representative for the Beckman estate. "He didn't like elk."

Mr. Beckman's donation is "a testament to basic decency and civic involvement," said Steve Doherty, chairman of the Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks Commission.

The civic involvement, though, came posthumously. Mr. Beckman, who lived in Great Falls, was a loner. He trusted few people and was happiest in the wild, hunting.

Jim Luoma of Sand Coulee, who became Mr. Beckman's friend through a mutual interest in guns, said Mr. Beckman grew up poor, farmed as a young man, put money in gold stocks, then invested the return profitably in oil. Mr. Luoma believes his friend was a savvy investor who also had a smart adviser.

Mr. Beckman's only sibling, Evelyn Fish, lives in Great Falls. Ms. Fish, his half-sister, said Mr. Beckman liked to read, loved his dog, obeyed hunting laws scrupulously and loathed hunters who did not do so.

Because of Mr. McDermand's affiliation with the Montana Wildlife Federation, Mr. Beckman went to him for help in arranging his financial affairs.

"When we finished he said, 'Don't tell any women or lawyers about this,' " Mr. McDermand said. "He didn't trust either one."

Mr. McDermand did persuade Mr. Beckman to meet with a lawyer, Kirk Evenson, after describing Mr. Evenson as an avid sportsman. Mr. Beckman had prepared a voluminous will that needed work, and Mr. Evenson was doing that when Mr. Beckman died. After a judge acknowledged Mr. Beckman's intent, his wishes were carried out.

Mr. Evenson said he met with Mr. Beckman about four times before he would disclose his wealth. "He said, 'What do you need to know that for?' " Mr. Evenson recalled. "I said, 'Well, you know, in estate planning ...' "

http://www.nytimes.com/2005/11/13/national/13montana.html

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countertop
November 13, 2005, 03:28 AM
Coool

I was just in Great Falls Montana nottoo long ago.

22-rimfire
November 13, 2005, 08:08 AM
That is a nice story and legacy to a simple man. From time to time, stories like this are published or are passed down in the traditional way. It just goes to show you, it is not how your dress or where you live that makes you the person you are.

HighVelocity
November 13, 2005, 08:20 AM
"When we finished he said, 'Don't tell any women or lawyers about this,' " Mr. McDermand said. "He didn't trust either one."

I think I would've liked this guy.

Smoke
November 13, 2005, 08:55 AM
He didn't like elk.

I wonder why. I love Elk, more than deer, especially chicken-fried.

Smoke

sumpnz
November 14, 2005, 01:37 PM
I know a guy not too unlike Mr Beckman. He's a crusty old b@$**** who rolls his own cigarettes, wears 30 year old clothes, and has few teeth. Looking at him while driving past his property, with all the partial cars, weeds, and gungy house you'd think he was just a simple old man waiting to die. If you meet him though, he's sharp as a tack and has more money than he knows what to do with. Guy has 2 gold mines in the Cascade Mountains, and runs all his own heavy equipment up there. He has 2 Ferrari 328's, both with less than 1000 miles. He's got 3 partially built airplanes, and probably $1-3million in cars and parts. He has cars most people have never heard of. BMW Isettas (plural), a Gogomobile, a Formula Ford race car, and dozen's I've forgotten about. He'll cuss every other word unless there's women around.

I doubt he'll leave his money to preserve hunting land though. He's got 4 kids so I'm sure they'll get the inheritance.

Atticus
November 15, 2005, 07:51 PM
God bless you Mr. Beckman.

minuteman1970
November 15, 2005, 11:09 PM
What a great guy!!

rwc
November 16, 2005, 01:37 AM
I'm heading out there next week to try and fill a B tag.

halvey
November 16, 2005, 10:25 AM
What a great man! When I die, I hope I have that kind of money to donate to buy land for hunters. I will probably never get to hunt that land, but still, I think that's about the coolest thing a guy could do.

I doubt he'll leave his money to preserve hunting land though. He's got 4 kids so I'm sure they'll get the inheritance. You know, I'm fairly young, but I'm not so sure I'll leave my kids with it all. A few things, then the rest goes to various things. I've seen too many people squander inheritances.

Crosshair
November 17, 2005, 01:26 AM
If you have any money to spare halvey, I could use help on my college loans.:D

halvey
November 17, 2005, 08:57 AM
College loans? :cuss: I think that's the last thing I'd give money to my kids for.:)

I graduated in 1995 and I left college with zero debt. I went to a state university and worked 20-30 hours a week to pay it off. No grants or anything like that and mom and dad only paid for my first quarter of school. After that, I was on my own.

Of course college is more expensive now, but it CAN be done. Besides, leaving money to buy hunting land is a lot more fun!!

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