Nov. 9-15, 2001
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Found-wallet mystery solved
Conference, Nov. 13, to examine globalizing the modern university
Notables -- awards and achievements of faculty and staff

Found-wallet mystery solved

Paul Sullivan
Betty Wooding
xxPaul Sullivan

By Anne Bromley and Betty Wooding

In the summer of 1971, U.Va. student Terry Dan was working for the intramural department and living with two other students in a room with bunk beds in Memorial Gymnasium. He figures that was when he lost his wallet.

Thirty years later, he got a call from the University that a wallet had been found containing his personal identification.

Welder Paul Sullivan was working on heating pipes near Mem Gym a couple months ago when something strange in a gap between two walls caught his eye. He reached into the crevice and pulled out two old wallets — dirty, but mostly intact.
"I’m not a detective, but I guessed that the wallets had been stolen," said Sullivan, a native of West Yorkshire County in England who has worked in Facilities Management for five years.

The wallets contained U.Va. student identification cards, driver’s licenses, orange Alderman Library cards, photos and notes, but no money. The ID cards were dated 1968. One wallet belonged to a Ralph William McCue Jr. and the other to a Terry Dan.

Sullivan told his co-worker, Bill Siebert, that he wanted to find the owners. "You never know," he said.

That weekend he was able to track them down through the Internet. When he keyed in the names, he found matches immediately, one with the same address as in one of the wallets. It turned out it was McCue’s father in Bluefield, W.Va., who passed along his son’s current phone number.

McCue, a surgeon in Akron, Ohio, and Dan, a former baseball player and now a contractor in Memphis, "couldn’t believe it. They were elated when I told them," Sullivan said. The alumni didn’t remember knowing each other, but they both graduated in 1972.

"When Mr. Sullivan told me there was no money in there, I told him there probably wasn’t any money in it 30 years ago," Dan said. "It evoked fond memories," nonetheless. Along with working at U.Va., Dan, then an outfielder on the University’s baseball team, also played in the Valley League, which comprised city-owned teams of professional and collegiate players. They played seven days a week, he said. The year after he graduated, Dan played for the New York Mets’ farm team in Marion, Va., before returning to his hometown.

"It was a blast from the past and it’s been fun thinking about that time," said Lorraine Leahy McCue, who received Sullivan’s phone call. The other wallet had her husband Bill’s driver’s license and student ID in it. Dr. McCue, who is a surgeon, said he had forgotten about losing his wallet, but his father remembered it. (Bill is a very distant cousin of Dr. Frank McCue III, the U.Va. orthopaedic surgeon after whom the athletic training center is named. They didn’t meet until they were both at the University.)

"It’ll be an opportunity to get a glimpse of the past," Bill said about soon receiving the wallet back after all this time. McCue, who was an R.A. his third year and lived on the Lawn his fourth, said he often played handball at Mem Gym.

Lorraine, an Education School graduate who was on the Honor Committee, said it’s a little sad that the wallet had been stolen and that they have no idea what happened, but still, it’s incredible it was found and that Sullivan cared enough to do something about it.

Bill and Lorraine are planning to attend their 30th-year class reunion next June, he said.

U.Va.’s Cheryl Gomez, director of utilities, checked with the city police (there wasn’t a University Police force at that time) and found one report of a stolen wallet.

Sullivan surmises that after the money was taken, the wallets were shoved behind the wall, where they remained hidden for 30 years.


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