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NJ School District Stunned After Former Special Ed Teacher Leaves $1 Million Donation

DUMONT, N.J. (CBSNewYork) -A New Jersey school district says someone they never expected donated most of her fortune, which nobody knew she had.

Her generosity will change the life of students requiring special services.

Genevive Via Cava spent her afternoons clipping coupons. She was a secret millionaire, saving her fortune for others.

"She was a no nonsense, no frills woman but generous and big hearted towards kids," her friend Richard Jablonski said.

He said you would have no idea the Ordell woman was rich. She lived very minimally, took no vacations, and didn't even change outfits.

"She would wear the same clothes," Jablonski said.

So it came as a complete shock when Jablonski found out his friend of more than 30 years had an estate worth well over a million dollars.

"I mean she floored me with that. I didn't know she had that type of money," he said.

She had no immediate family, so when she died in October of 2011 she left her home and everything in it to Jablonski. His son and grandchildren now live in the house, but the rest of the estate went to the Dumont school district, and others.

"She must have had a tremendous connection with the district and the students," said Emanuele Triggiano, superintendent of the Dumont School District.

Triggiano said Genevieve spent her entire career working as a special education teacher in his district. It took years to get to it, but a few weeks ago, they received a check for $1 million from her estate attorney.

"The most we have ever seen from any group was in the tens of thousands but never something like this," Triggiano said.

The money will be invested, and the interest will become an annual scholarship. About $25,000 will go to a Dumont student with special needs looking to further their education.

"Its an eye-opening experience for them because this opens more doors for opportunity," Dumont School District Director of Special Services Paul Barbato.

It's an opportunity of a lifetime, from a woman who spent her life saving for it.

Genevieve was 88 when she died. She also left money to the Salvation Army, a few New Jersey animal shelters, and a hearing center.

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