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Few knew the extent of this 105-year-old woman's wealth. She left Washington community colleges $10M

Posted at 12:54 PM, Dec 27, 2019

Few people knew the extent of Eva Gordon's wealth when she died at age 105 in 2018. But now, her estate could change the lives of young people throughout the state of Washington.

According to the Seattle Times, Gordon's estate announced earlier this month that she had left $10 million to 17 community college across the state.

According to the Times, Gordon grew up on an orchard in Eugene, Oregon. While her family says she would have liked to attend college, she came of age just as the stock market crashed in 1929. The Great Depression that followed kept her from getting her degree.

That didn't stop Gordon from moving to Seattle and working at an investment firm. Through a frugal lifestyle and some smart investments — the Times reports that she was one of the earliest investors in Nordstrom when the department store went public — she was able to amass a small fortune.

Even after she married her husband in her 50s, she kept a separate bank account. She never had any children. Gordon's godson, John Jacobs, said Gordon liked to dress well but continued to drive older cars throughout her life.

Though she was never able to attend college herself, Gordon and her husband always held college education in high regard. When her husband died in 2008, he left more than $3 million to South Seattle College.

According to the Times, each community college will receive about $550,000. Shoreline Community College in Shoreline, Washington, says it will use the gift to establish a scholarship program for first-time students, while Tacoma Community College says the gift will be used to establish scholarships or provide support for students without stable housing.

Alex Hider is a writer for the E.W. Scripps National Desk. Follow him on Twitter @alexhider.