Written by Patty Decker Tuesday, 26 October 2010 16:39
Almost 10 years ago, Rita Steiner of Tampa lost her wallet while shopping in Salina, and after months of searching for it, she gave up hope of ever locating it.
But Kathy Woelk at the Hillsboro U.S. Post Office had good news Friday—she found it.
Unbeknownst to Woelk, the wallet had been missing for almost a decade when she telephoned Steiner to let her know her billfold was at the post office.
“I was stunned,” Steiner said when she realized it was her wallet. “I started crying.”
Woelk said she discovered the wallet while dumping mail out of the drop box around noon Thursday.
Usually when someone accidentally drops their wallet into the drive through mail box, she said, they come back that day to pick it up. When no one claimed the wallet, Woelk said, she decided to contact the owner.
What astonished both Steiner and Woelk was the wallet’s condition. Miraculously, the wallet and its contents were in the same order and shape as the day they were lost, minus $190 in cash.
Steiner told Woelk the wallet had been missing for about five years, but after closer inspection of her bank checks, she discovered the last check she wrote was Nov. 28, 2000.
“I remembered writing it to Food For Less, which is now a furniture store, I think,” she said.
After she wrote the check, she said she left the store with her shopping cart, but she had a lot to carry, so she laid her billfold on the car bumper.
“It was snowy and icy in the parking lot,” she said.
“I got in my car and drove about two blocks and realized I forgot my wallet.”
Returning to the parking lot, Steiner couldn’t believe that in such a short period of time the billfold was gone.
“I went back in the store and called the police,” she said, “but it was gone.”
Steiner said she was surprised no one had taken any of the credit cards, checks, driver’s license or even a $1 winning Kansas Lottery scratch ticket.
“My co-op gas card was still there too,” she said.
Looking at the card, Steiner and Woelk laughed at the card’s appearance because it had hole punch registration system, which was used prior to black strip technology.
In addition, to the untouched cards and checks, all of her family pictures were in tact.
“From time to time, my sister, Florence (Holt), would ask me if I found my wallet,” Steiner said.
Her sister was 20 years older, she said, and passed away in April, but Steiner said she knows her wallet was found.
Flipping through the plastic sleeves, she showed Woelk a photo of her sister, her parents, her three sons—Ron, John and Ken, who all attended Hillsboro High School—and her granddaughter.
“A lot has changed in 10 years,” Steiner said, “including the style of this (lost) billfold.”
Hillsboro Postmaster Becky Larsen questioned why the billfold wasn’t discovered in Salina.
“It also amazes me it didn’t get thrown away,” she said.
“It’s a real mystery,” she said.
Steiner, who was 60 when she lost her wallet, was so grateful to Woelk, she couldn’t resist giving her a huge hug.
“I never thought I would see it again,” she said.