More than three years after an anonymous “cowboy” dropped $10,000 worth of gold coins into a Salvation Army Christmas kettle, his identity remains unknown.
This is the story of one man whose name may never be widely revealed if he and those honoring his wishes have things their way.
“He was a very private man,” his attorney told us on Tuesday. “I think he would be offended,” she said, if the newspaper revealed his name and his actions.
So we’ll honor his request, but thought the community might like to know more about the man we’ll call Herman.
A former girlfriend, Alda Pill, of Jacksonville, Fla., told us the story. She said Herman was eccentric, which was part of what she liked about him when they met in college in Ohio in the mid-1970s.
They dated for a year or two — she even followed him to Florida — before “he shaved his head, got a boat and went fishing,” she said. Both married other people and they eventually lost contact until Herman hired a private detective to find Pill again, just before Christmas in 2011.
He was obsessed with Buffalo Bill, cowboys, Billy the Kid, Native Americans and Western heritage, Pill said.
A sociology major in college, he also believed in astrology. Once he asked Pill to cancel travel plans because he didn’t like the looks of a horoscope.
He had a multitude of jobs throughout his life, ranging from bartender to lumber jack, but Pill said she seldom knew him to spend money.
He lived alone the last 10 years in Clovis, and rejected most modern conveniences, including cell phone, microwave oven and computer, she said.
He collected gold coins, she said, and told her he’d amassed a million dollars in cash and gold.
When he visited her in Florida about 14 months ago, he told her about his Salvation Army donation. He suggested she search the Internet for a 2009 story about the Clovis “cowboy” he’d read in the Clovis News Journal.
The description — a tall man with a cowboy hat and boots and a turquoise ring — fit him perfectly, she said. But he asked that she not tell anyone.
She didn’t, until she learned of Herman’s death last Friday. He died alone in his one-bedroom Clovis apartment, probably from congestive heart failure, she said. He would have been 62 next week.
No funeral services are scheduled, at Herman’s request, and no obituary notice will be printed in the newspaper.
A brother described Herman as “very intellectual, introspective, very much a thinker.”
The brother, who last spoke with him four years ago, said he doesn’t know if the reclusive Herman had a million dollars or if he made plans to donate it all to local charities as Pill said he told her.
He said he doesn’t know if Herman was really the mystery man who donated the gold coins to the Salvation Army, and he doesn’t care to know.
“I think it’s a better story left a mystery,” he said.
RIP, Herman. Thanks for the mysterious life.
Unsigned editorials are the opinion of the Clovis Media Inc. editorial board, which includes Publisher Ray Sullivan and Editor David Stevens.