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Christmas Just Became a Little Less Spirited

By Shannon in News on Jan 14, 2007 8:30PM

christmas wishesRemember when we told you back in November about the special Secret Santa guy? The one who gives out $100 bills on the streets of Chicago for Christmas? He had finally revealed his identity after handing out large chunks of change for several years running. Well, what we didn't know at the time was that the reason he put a face to the kindness was because he was dying of cancer. On Friday, Larry Stewart, known in Chicago and Kansas City, Mo. as Secret Santa, passed away at the age of 58.

Stewart was originally from Lee's Summit, Missouri, a far-out suburb of Kansas City. According to the Associated Press, Stewart's giving spirit kicked into gear at Christmas in 1979. He went to a drive-in restaurant where he saw a carhop shivering in the cold. Despite having just been fired from his job (at Christmas, no less), Stewart gave her $20. After that incident, he went on to make millions in cable media and telecommunications. He then started handing out small portions of his fortune every year at Christmastime in the streets of KC and Chicago, in the form of $100 bills.

Stewart was diagnosed with esophageal cancer last April. Knowing his time was short, he revealed his identity to the public, something he hadn't even done for an appearance on Oprah in 1995. Along the way, he had also started recruiting other Secret Santas to hand out their money to the less fortunate. Overall, Stewart parted ways with approximately $1.3 million over a span of 27 years. This past season, he dedicated his giving to the late Buck O'Neil, of Negro Leagues baseball fame. We've no doubt the remaining Santas, in order to continue Stewart's legacy of charity, will do the same for him this year.

Image courtesy of p2wy.