HR Strange But True!
July 14, 2011

To level out the playing field, this week’s final story is about an exemplary employee. Last month, we ran a column about colleagues cashing in million-dollar lotto tickets. Since then, we’ve come across another lucky worker who won big. But his prize isn’t why we’re writing about him; it’s his decision on how to spend the money that has us intrigued.

For some, material wealth is a virtue, and so money really does buy happiness. But in the case of one Tyrone Curry, a janitor at Seattle’s Evergreen High School, happiness does not come with a price tag, and it has nothing to do with luck.

“I’m just Joe Citizen,” says Tyrone. He still lives in a tiny house at the end of his cul-de-sac with his wife, a 2-year-old grandson, two stepsons, and two in-laws—mother and daughter—and does not plan on moving. “We were in the middle of bankruptcy when we won the lottery,” says his wife, Michelle. Yet with this stroke of financial luck in the midst of bankruptcy, what keeps Tyrone from big spending?

Before he was a janitor, Tyrone was a boilerman in the U.S. Navy and was shipped out to battle … seven times. For this Vietnam War vet, the big spending will surely come, but not toward a fancy new car, a new house, or grandiose personal investments. Instead, this custodial millionaire will put $40,000 of his winnings toward building the school’s track team new turf to replace their old cinder track. Working a second job as the team’s coach, it seems Tyrone has found worthier places to invest his money.

The team’s captain, 18-year-old DeVante Botello (a high-honors student), recently lost his mother to a heart attack. His father was not around. In their absence, Coach Curry has gone beyond his occupational responsibilities. “He taught me perseverance,” DeVante says. “How to hold on and deal with the cards you're dealt. ‘Power through,’ Coach said. ‘Life is hard.’ ”

DeVante goes on: “Coach has this soft chuckle and then a nod. That power nod gets me every time. He just wanted to let me know that he was there for me. Coach said I didn't have to feel alone.”

Tyrone has offered to pay for DeVante’s college education.


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