Hard to even comprehend, but this great story, courtesy the WSJ‘s Anna Prior, recounts how Ronald Read accumulated an estate valued at almost $8 million. Mr. Read, who passed away at the age of 92, made a modest living pumping gas for many years at a Gulf gas station in Brattleboro, Vermont.

A Five-Inch Stack of Stock Certificates

How did Ronald Read manage to become a multi-millionaire? Mr. Read invested in dividend-paying blue-chip stocks. As Ms. Prior writes, Mr. Read took delivery of the actual stock certificates and “left behind a five-inch-thick stack of stock certificates in a safe-deposit box.” At his passing, Mr. Read owned over 90 stocks and had held his positions often for decades. The companies he owned paid longtime dividends. And when his dividend checks came in the mail, Ronald Read reinvested in additional shares. Apparently Mr. Read was the master of the theory of compound interest. Not surprising, his list of stock holdings included such dividend payers as Johnson & Johnson (NYSE: JNJ), Procter & Gamble (NYSE: PG), J.M. Smucker (NYSE: SJM), and CVS Health (NYSE: CVS), all names I write about for you regularly. No high flyers for Ronald Read, and certainly no technology names.

Protect, Preserve, Patience, Perspective

Obviously Ronald Read had been a staunch practitioner of my PPPP theme, featuring the basics—Protect, Preserve, Patience, Perspective. Focus on those traits for success.