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THE TEDDY BEAR LADY


Most of the people at Chicago’s Children’s Hospital did not know her name. They just knew her as the sweet elderly lady in the red suit who wanted to make sure that every sick child had a teddy bear to hug and caress. She kept bringing the stuffed animals, purchased with her own money, to give to ailing children. That is why she was simply called the "Teddy Bear Lady."


Her name was Gladys Holm, a retired secretary for an insurance company, who lived alone in a tiny apartment. It wasn’t that she could afford no better place, although no one except her attorney and stockbroker knew she was quite wealthy.


When she died at age 86, she had a portfolio worth over $18 million. She had never married and had no heirs. Her will simply directed that the bulk of her estate be given to the Children’s Memorial Hospital. Her gift was to go to medical research so that new methods of treating sick or disabled children might be developed.


The hospital authorities were absolutely shocked by the news. No one had the slightest idea that this woman delivering the teddy bears to ailing children had such wealth. As they began to piece together more of her life’s story, they discovered something else. They learned that the teddy bears were really a ruse. She gave away teddy bears to learn more about the financial resources of the families of the children. When she learned that parents did not have insurance or enough to cover the expenses, she very quietly took care of the bills.

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