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Daniel Raumer was a quiet and humble man who made an extraordinary decision.

"He was raised a certain way – an old-fashioned way – and he had his own code of ethics," his niece, Gail Raumer, says.

"It was help your family, but also do what you think is right, and for him that was helping other people with cancer – not necessarily just medical research – but he wanted to help the families who were going through it."

Dan's sister, Rita, had unexpectedly passed away from cancer in 2018 and so when he also became ill with cancer two years later, his thoughts turned to a chance meeting many years earlier with philanthropist, Charles Viertel.

"He was very impressed with the way Viertel managed his charity and he felt he had the same sort of life as him," his nephew, Mark Raumer, says.

So much so, that rather than set up his own foundation, Dan pledged the bulk of his $6 million share portfolio to the $210 million Sylvia and Charles Viertel Charitable Foundation, which is a perpetual charitable trust that funds medical research and provides aged care services.

Both Dan and Charlie were frugal, from humble beginnings, and built much of their wealth on the stock market. It was an unusual and visionary decision but a mark of his benevolence and humility; one which ensures his money will be used efficiently by building on the Viertel's legacy.

The roots of his decision can be traced all the way back to his upbringing. He was born during World War II and raised on a sugar cane farm in Innisfail in the early years of his life by his father Giovanni and mother Mary, alongside his elder siblings Margherita (Rita) and Lenard (Len).

His father passed away when he was very young, leaving his widowed mother Mary to instil in him the value of hard work and the importance of saving money.

"All credit to her, she was a really strong, intelligent lady," Gail says. "The jobs she had to do – stringing tobacco; Hotel Cook; Laundress and Railway Station Mistress early in the piece – even after they sold the farm she worked hard because she wanted to be able to pay for a good education for the kids."

Dan showed some entrepreneurial flair early in life, supplementing his mum's income as ‘lookout’ for US soldiers playing ‘two bob’, who were wary of being caught by the military police.

He later went on to become an electrician, working at the Mount Isa Mines, where he also joined the mines fire services, fulfilling a childhood dream to become a firefighter.

"I think that's where he actually first made his money because he worked very hard out there, and he probably put quite a lot of it aside," Mark says.

While he never married or had children, he lived a full life, travelling the world with friends and working abroad. At 25 years of age, he sailed to the United Kingdom on the “Fairsky” with a couple of mates where they bought an old London Black Cab and travelled Europe and North Africa over six months.

He dabbled in real estate but it was shares that sparked his passion.

"To actually create that wealth made him feel useful and it was probably a challenge for him," Mark said.

His ability to pick the right investments allowed him to retire at just 34 years of age although to relieve boredom he often went back to work. He later completed an accountancy course in the 90s (with honours) to better manage his portfolio. This was something he managed without ever using the internet, preferring newspapers and magazines.

He enjoyed playing bowls and bridge in later life but never made a show of his wealth. The family would joke that he would buy a new car every few years but never pay extra for air-conditioning.

While he loved spending time and talking with his family, his introverted nature also meant he always knew when to draw the line.

"He didn't mind his own company at all, but he loved company when he chose company," Gail says.

At the age of 79, he bequeathed his significant share portfolio to the Viertel Foundation.

"He invested very much like Viertel himself: he was a self-taught accountant. Nonna [his mum Mary] was so proud of him. She'd say: 'Dan's down the back, just on the computer, he's wanting to finish this degree, or he was just working'."

Dan's legacy will now make a difference in the lives of generations to come.

"He was laughing about it when he was too sick to look after the shares and said, 'you wouldn't believe it's looking after itself better than I did'," Gail says. "He was quite pleased with the way it was going but he kept still kept an eye on it right to the very end."

Dan Raumer's $6 million legacy will now help fund the diverse and extraordinary work enabled by the Viertel Charitable Foundation over many decades. The Foundation's flagship program is centred around its Senior Medical Research Fellowships and Clinical Investigator awards program, which support post-doctoral scientists pursuing their own promising research projects. More than 100 researchers have benefited from Viertel’s generosity – you can read about the latest Fellows and their work here.