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Anonymous Man Giving $10,000 a Year to School District that Helped Him Read

April 20, 1985

EAST GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (AP) _ This western Michigan school district has gotten the first $10,000 check from a man who jogged in and promised annual donations because he appreciated a teacher who helped him to read.

The jogger came in in December, asked about what happened to Mary Jenks, his teacher in the 1950s, and said the checks would keep coming as long as the East Grand Rapids School District kept his name secret, Wealthy Street Elementary School Principal Lorraine Rocca said Friday.

″He was a very low-key person,″ Mrs. Rocca said. ″He just stated in a very matter-of-fact way: ‘I’m a very wealthy person. I’d like to give some money to help kids learn how to read.’

″The thought going through my mind was ‘Really, are you kidding.’ It could have been a story. You know, you meet all kinds of people.″

Mrs. Rocca put the man in touch with Superintendent James Morse, who said he checked out his claim to own a string of automobile dealerships.

″It’s unusual, but it’s kind of neat,″ he said.″We’re kind of excited he has seen fit to support the school system he graduated from.″

Each check will be turned over to the East Grand Rapids Schools Foundation and the money will be used for remedial reading programs, Morse said.

Mrs. Rocco said records showed that his former teacher, whom the man said pulled him from a playground in the 1950s to help him with his reading, had died in 1981.

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