Mary McConnell Bailey lived modestly and volunteered at a hospital and schools, before dying at 88 last year, the New York Post newspaper reported on Tuesday.

Now it has emerged that after the 88 year old Bailey’s death late last year the New York Public Library and the Central Park Conservancy each received cheques for $10 million in her will.

The news has shocked and surprised Bailey’s friend and neighbour Lizanne Stoll. “You would have never known she was rich… When we went to lunch, it was usually Dutch,” she said, meaning everyone paid for themselves.

The library’s top donations officer said that he remembered seeing Bailey on several occasions but said that he couldn’t remember ever having heard the sound of her voice, “that’s how softly spoken she was.”

According to the Post, Bailey came from a wealthy family and moved to New York in the 1940s, then inherited a fortune. However, she spent little.

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