Speed Reads

It wasn't all bad

Legal secretary who kept her wealth a secret donates millions to college scholarship funds

To the surprise of her family and friends, Sylvia Bloom spent decades making wise investments, leaving her with a $9 million fortune by the time she died in 2016.

The Brooklyn resident was 96 years old when she died, and had only recently retired from her job as a legal secretary. Bloom had spent 67 years with Clearly Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton, and her niece, Jane Lockshin, told The New York Times that her aunt was "a secretary in an era when they ran their boss' lives, including their personal investments. So when the boss would buy a stock, she would make the purchase for him, and then buy the same stock for herself, but in a smaller amount because she was on a secretary's salary."

Lockshin, the executor of her aunt's estate, was told that a bulk of the inheritance was to go toward scholarships of her own choosing. She selected the Henry Street Settlement, a nonprofit on New York's Lower East Side where she serves as a board member. The donation, $6.24 million, will endow the Expanded Horizons College Success Program, and an additional $2 million will go to Hunter College, Bloom's alma mater, and another scholarship fund that has not yet been announced. "She was a child of the Depression and she knew what it was like not to have money," friend Paul Hyams told the Times. "She had great empathy for other people who were needy and wanted everybody to have a fair shake."