Tucson millionaire busts money myths

Perhaps the only thing many Americans dig more than Big Macs is money.

But we’ve also heard how money can corrupt and destroy, or how its shameless adoration is the root of all evil.

That’s not the case at all with Tucsonan millionaire Ed Jenkins. We met him briefly last week when he and his wife, Kay, donated $1 million to Interfaith Community Services.

Ed Jenkins/submitted photo

Ed Jenkins/submitted photo

Ed was kind enough to answer a slew of questions and help bust some myths about what it’s like to be a millionaire.

As we also may have heard, money can’t buy you love. Sure, it could probably buy you all the dates you wanted, but not the love found by Ed and Kay, who have now been married 53 years.

Ed, 74, and Kay, whose age Ed said is a State secret, were childhood sweethearts even before they were financially well off. They have four married children, eight grandchildren and no more pets.

“You know that life begins when the kids leave home and the dog dies,” Ed pointed out.

So what’s the millionaire life? No servants, no personal jets – no Pacific island or Irish castle ownership.

“Most, I believe, like us, live pretty ordinary lives in an unassuming manner,” he said. He even called it “very normal, unexciting and boring.”

They love the outdoors. Ed enjoys hiking, gardening, reading. Kay’s a skilled quilter. Both spend tons of time volunteering, with Ed’s duties at ICS at 25 hours each week.

Money doesn’t automatically make you selfish, self-centered or snobby. The $1 million donation kind of got rid of that myth, as does the couple’s penchant for giving back to the community.

“Unlike so many in Tucson who face crushing financial needs, Kay and I do not have that issue. For that we are very grateful,” Ed said. “But we don’t go around looking down our noses at others.”

Nor do you have to be born with a silver spoon in your mouth or acquire wealth from a great aunt you never knew about who dies and leaves you a fortune.

When asked if he was born into wealth, Ed quickly replied, “Are you kidding?”

Both had dads who were civil servants. Ed’s mom was a substitute teacher while Kay’s was a homemaker.

“We lived normal middle class lives, growing up as the depression was ending and through the Second World War,” Ed said. “We have never received any significant inheritance.”

Instead Kay and Ed worked hard for the money. Kay was a domestic engineer while Ed spent more than 43 years in accounting. The couple is originally from Michigan, but his job kept them stationed in the Chicago area, where Ed would work excruciating hours and be shuttled on frequent business trips to various countries.

“(A) famous person once said: ‘Find a job you love and you will never have to work a day in your life.’ I did and I guess that makes me both lucky and lazy.”

Ed retired for the first time in 1996 – until he took a five-year “quasi public service position” in Connecticut. The Jenkins moved to Tucson in 2002.

“There are many fine organizations in Tucson,” Ed said. “In fact, for its size, Tucson has one of the most active and involved not-for-profit sectors I have ever experienced. We are blessed as a community for that.”

Even though Ed and Kay amassed their wealth from scratch and sweat, he cautioned that probably not just anyone could become a millionaire.

“Unfortunately, not all have the same opportunity because of education, innate abilities, environmental factors, etc.,” he said. “But all can have the opportunity to achieve a reasonable and self-sustaining life. Hard work can accomplish a lot.”

And being a millionaire was not his main goal in life – nor is it the main point of life.

“When I was growing up, a millionaire was really something,” Ed said. “Now, with inflation, not so much.  I always strived to work hard and support my family in a comfortable way.  I never set any specific goals. After all, I’m not Warren Buffett.

“I don’t think everyone has a goal to be a millionaire, and I didn’t either.  Each person should be comfortable with the goals one sets and be satisfied with doing the best he or she can to achieve them.

”Just being a millionaire doesn’t mean you are free from all worries or issues. There are lots of other things to enjoy and be thankful for.

“A famous philosopher – I have forgotten who – once said: ‘When you die the only thing you hold in your hands is that which you have given away.’”



Other millionaire myths Ed busted

Do you:

Own a yacht – No. We once had a canoe though.

Vacation often – About once a year we take a low key, small boat cruise involving some form of outdoor-nature related activity. Last year we went to the Galapagos Islands.

Eat caviar – No. Not a good value.

Wear designer clothing – No. I did just receive an order from L.L. Bean with a pair of jeans and a pair of new moccasins.

Have lots of jewelry – No. Where would we wear it?  I have Timex watch, however.

Live in the Foothills – Yes. But that covers a lot of territory.

Collect antiques and medieval armor – No. Why would we want to have to dust all that? On second thought, a set of armor might come in handy from time to time.


Why the Jenkinses picked Interfaith Community Services:

Ed says: I pretty much fell into ICS by accident when we retired to Tucson and I was looking for some way to volunteer. I always have been attracted to organizations that help people and ICS certainly does that. Being actively involved provides an opportunity to get to know an organization and see how effectively they manage the resources available in helping people and ICS accomplishes that in spades.

I also believe that one should make significant financial contributions to organizations like ICS where you have enough involvement, or know someone with enough involvement, to be confident about how the funds will be used.

ICS measures up on all the above.

There are many, many opportunities to be philanthropic in Tucson. But, particularly in the very tough economic times we are facing, I believe those organizations, like ICS, that are serving the basic needs of humanity – food, clothing and shelter; those who concentrate on keeping seniors and disabled in their own homes and not on the street; rise to the top and should attract the top priority for our support.


Ryn Gargulinski is a poet, artist, performer and TucsonCitizen.com Ryngmaster who would love to own a set of medieval armor. Her column appears every Friday on Rynski’s Blogski. Her art, writing and more is at RynRules.com and Rynski.Etsy.com. E-mail rynski@tucsoncitizen.com.

wb-logolilWhat do you think?

What other money myths could you bust?

What money myths hold true?


About Rynski

Writer, artist, performer who specializes in the weird, wacky and sometimes creepy. Learn more at ryngargulinski.com.
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29 Responses to Tucson millionaire busts money myths

  1. radmax says:

    Mornin’ Rynski…I’m havin’ a deja vu over this one…all over again. I guess if you have enough dough you get your story done twice? 😉 So…I guess I’ll leave a similar comment; Where do I have to sign up for the mill to bust myths with? 🙂

    • Rynski says:

      mornin’ radmax,
      the other story focused on the jenkinses donation and the florida lottery winner who was allegedly killed for his money.
      this one gives more background on ed and kay and busts money myths.
      i’m amazed you got their background out of the other story! you must be psychic, no? haha 

  2. Jennatoolz says:

    Hey Ryn!! Ed seems like a super nice guy. Doesn’t he owe me a million dollars?? Haha JK

    Thanks to Ed for clearing up some millionaire myths! Now I know that life won’t be pure bliss when I’m making my millions someday. Fine with me! I just wanna stay happy, and live comfortably. 🙂

    • Rynski says:

      haha! hiya jenna,
      yes, i was very glad ed cleared up a lot of the myths, esp. the caviar thing – i was hoping i wouldn’t have to acquire a taste for it once my own millions start rolling in – hahah.
      ed is very kind – and witty. i like that they once had a canoe.
      i agree – happy and comfortable are two very good – and attainable! – goals.

  3. azmouse says:

    There was a time in my life that money wasn’t a worry. I can say I slept better at night.

    • Rynski says:

      yeah, it’s a huge burden not having enough money – but it can become an obsession that can also make life a horror show. i only have experience with the former  – haha.
      i am glad to see, too, by poll results so far, that folks have things more important than money in their lives (although i’d say drugs as the most important thing is kinda scary and i hope they are jesting as i was when i put that answer in).

      • azmouse says:

        I know people who drugs/alcohol are probably the most important thing in their lives, sadly.
        I had to vote family, friends and pets, of course.

        And hey, if owning a nice house with a big pool and fruit trees in the yard, a couple vehicles, cellphone, cable with all the movie channels for my new, big flat screen, plus tv’s in every room, including the back porch and three computers not counting the laptop and water and electricity is roughing it, well I’m there. LOL
        Being poor in this country is NOTHING like being poor somewhere else.

      • Jennatoolz says:

        Can we come live with you azmouse?? Hahah kidding
        Hey! We just bought a new big, flat panel tv too! 😀 Gotta love tax refunds!

      • azmouse says:

        Hey, my big tv was a Christmas gift from my daughter, Sara. She thought I needed an upgrade.

      • Rynski says:

        hahha! that IS ALMOST roughin’ it, azmouse! but think the fruit trees in the yard moved you up to NOT roughin’ it – hahah.
        congrats! jenna on your new TV. i don’t watch tv but got a dandy one for xmas so i can better watch all the stupid movies i rent – hahah

      • azmouse says:

        I have to say, it’s about time you got a tv, Ryn.

        Yeah…nothing like grabbing an orange right off the tree…..

      • radmax says:

        Shhhh az! She’ll start bloggin’ about Oprah episodes! UGH!!! 😉

      • leftfield says:

        I forced to choose, I would have to say that drugs and alcohol are less harmful to your mind and body than television.  Nothing like being a completely passive receptacle for propaganda and paying for the privilege to be so!

      • Rynski says:

        love lefty’s comment! hahah

      • ErinJ says:

        Being poor in America is nothing like being poor in a Third world country.   It is very similar to being poor in other developed countries, in fact a little worse than some.

  4. tiponeill says:

    It may seem like a minority interest, but shouldn’t “sex” be on that poll somewhere ?
    That’s what happens with female reporters, I guess 😉

    • Rynski says:

      you’re right, tip – i did mean to include ‘sex’ as a poll option – but inadvertently left it off  – think i was too busy thinking how important my pets were – hahah

  5. radmax says:

    I believe Tip has stumbled onto something here Rynski…a glaring omission. 🙂 I know I prefer it over a Big-Mac any day…

  6. leftfield says:

    What I find remarkable is not so much that this family accumulated some wealth, but that their generosity is so unusual that we are in awe of it. 

  7. Renee Schafer Horton says:

    Excellent, excellent story Ryn. Thanks for bringing this out there. xoxxo, rsh

  8. Mike Brewer says:

    Having spent nearly 30 years in commercial property management, I have been privilege to make the acquaintance of many wealthy folk.  I would have to say, generalization that it may be, that most all the millionaires I have known are very common, caring, and magnanimous people, the majority of whom have a notable spiritual core.
    For some reason, most of the ones I know, to this day, seem to hail from the Midwest. Something about the work ethic I think.

    • Rynski says:

      hey mike,
      good to hear it the millionaires you’ve met have been wonderful. right on!
      i have also had discussions with others about the midwest work ethic. definitely agree! i grew up in mich, and one of my best friends in ohio, and we were both instilled with that solid, loyal, work forever kind of thinking. it’s a BIG contrast to some other work ethics, or lack thereof!, we’ve seen.

  9. Ferraribubba says:

    Hey Mike, my 2 Pesos: There are two kinds of wealth. Self-made and inherited. I can only speak of the inherited wealthy that I have met.
    Either the Hearst billionaires I worked for, or the lone billionaire and handful of self-made millionaires that I spent 28 days with in an unnamed Old Pueblo Rehab. (BTW, Patty Hearst was about the only billionaire Hearst that I didn’t know, as I was George Jr’s Go’fer. She was hanging with Cinque and the SLA at the time, robbing banks and killing people.)
    My observations of the weathty was that half the inherited group couldn’t pour piss out of a boot without getting their feet wet, the other half were bright, but not as bright as the self-made wealthy.
    Fully, 1/10 of the Hearsts would have been on food stamps of not for their last name.
    Yer pal, Ferrari Bubba

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