The Humboldt County Farm Bureau has nearly $1 million more in its endowment fund, thanks to the generosity of a former ranch worker.

Sterling Fulmore Paddock left the money to the bureau to be used for scholarships, according to bureau officials. He died Feb. 27, 2008, at the age of 97.

Paddock never owned a ranch, but worked as a ranchhand, then later as a caretaker. His education didn't go beyond grade school, but he was apparently able to amass his fortune through a lifetime of frugal living and astute investing.

Rusty Moore, who knew Paddock for many years, told the Eureka Times-Standard that Paddock would ride a horse to travel between ranches, even in the 1950s.
"He knew how to live on next to nothing," Moore recalled.

Paddock's niece, Gayle Strom of Tumwater, Wash., remembered Paddock as a person who never married, spent little and steadily invested.

In his spare time, Paddock apparently studied the stock market closely and made some lucrative investments over the years. Former Humboldt County Coroner Frank Jager, who acted as executor of Paddock's estate, said that a large number of books, publications and stock prospectuses were found in Paddock's home after his death.

Officials anticipate the money will generate between $30,000 and $50,0000 per year in interest, which will go toward the education of vocational students.

Paddock's bequest is an important legacy for Humboldt County education, said Jay Russ, a Ferndale cattle rancher and president of the Humboldt County Farm Bureau.

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