TAMPA BAY, FLORIDA – Local resident Giuseppe Lombarde, known to his friends as “Gus”, passed away nearly one month to this day at the ripe age of 92. However, it was not until Monday afternoon that his will was read aloud to his family and friends by his attorney and best friend Patrick “Paddy” O’Mahoney that everyone learned he left his entire estate to the Sacred Heart of Tampa Bay, FL.
Gus was a regular during the Sunday morning mass at the Sacred Heart where he deposited thick white envelopes into the offering, was seen “dressing to the nines” all days of the week, and for decades built and expanded upon a vault converted from a Cold War era bomb shelter. These behaviors led many in his family and the community to believe he was quite wealthy.
Local resident Pam Tillerson explained the mischaracterization:
“Gus could light up a room, he was always wearing some kind of tie and really nice shoes. Most people around here wear flip flops and shorts but not old Gus. Ladies were always trying to pick him up but he was loyal to his deceased wife Beatrice. I think a lot of people thought he was hoarding gemstones, gold rings or maybe even moon pies cause he was constantly expanding the f%!@ing vault.”
His children and extended family, initially devastated to learn they were not to inherit contents of the vault, were later relieved. The vault contained nothing but raw Appalachian coal.
Letters left behind by Gus explain the eccentric behavior of coal hoarding as a simple misunderstanding of the earth’s outstanding resources. Gus subscribed to many conspiracy theories during his life including one dating back to the 60’s referred to as “Peak Coal” convincing him the earth was running out of coal. Believing future generations would be fighting for coal he thought the value of coal would exceed that of diamonds and that one day he would be sitting on a diamond mine.
His deceased wife’s letters revealed even more as she wrote in the 70’s that he believed that he was already sitting on “5 billion dollars worth of diamonds of the future.” He believed he was already a billionaire so he was merely dressing and acting the part.
From what Gus’s surviving relatives can piece together he financed his operations coal hoarding habits by setting aside $84 of his $980.72 Social Security paycheck. Once a month he would visit the local shipyard where they would fill his 1964 El Camino with as much coal as they could fit. Eventually Gus had more coal than his woodshed could hold and before long he was converting his bomb shelter into a vault and…. the rest is history.
UPDATE: The Sacred Heart released a statement regretfully declining any interest in probating Gus’s will citing the legal costs for probate and the costs to have the coal moved exceeds the value of the future diamonds.