The Hero of Canton, the man they called Mr. B. Virdot
December 21, 2010 10:37 AM Subscribe
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In 1933, a mysterious benefactor posted an ad
in the local Canton, Ohio paper, offering some Christmas funds to people who might otherwise shy away from asking for aid, even in those tough times. That Anonymous Giver went by the pseudonym "Mr. B. Virdot," and ended up giving some money to 150 families and people in town who wrote in with their personal stories. The unknown person's identity was never revealed, and his true identity was not even known to his grandson, until the mysterious benefactor's daughter gave her son, Ted Gup, a battered suitcase full of letters and checks signed by "Mr. B. Virdot"
. The mysterious man was Samuel J. Stone, a Jewish man whose family had fled Romania when he was young. Stone had done well in the United States, and owned a small chain of clothing stores in 1933. The story of the mysterious gifts hasn't faded from Canton
, and on November 5 of this year, Stone's grandson, Gup, gave a public talk to the community and decedents of the original recipients of Virdot's gifts.
And now, Canton residents are bringing back the spirit of Virdot
Ted Gup's talk with his former hometown brought people together to remember a welcomed gift in hard times
, people who hadn't known the identity of their generous neighbor was until Gup contacted them as part of his research
for the book "A Secret Gift"
Now a trio of local benefactors are bringing back the spirit of Virdot to Canton
. The spirit of giving keeps growing, from their initial $15,000, "up to more than $48,000 in the week before Christmas
," according to an NPR story aired this morning. And from that story, the offers for donations have come in from Arizona, California, Illinois, Indiana and Wisconsin