VIC­TO­RIA GOOD SA­MAR­I­TAN RE­UNITES WAL­LET WITH VIS­IT­ING VET

24 Hours Vancouver - - NEWS - GOR­DON MCIN­TYRE

It took a Good Sa­mar­i­tan and some am­a­teur sleuthing to re­unite Amer­i­can tourist Zachary Wha­ley with his lost wal­let.

“When I dis­cov­ered I had lost my bill­fold, adrenalin en­er­gized me to prac­ti­cally run back along Gov­ern­ment Street, but I found no trace of it,” said the 85-year-old Wha­ley, who was in Vic­to­ria for a fam­ily re­union.

“Af­ter can­celling my credit cards, I filed a po­lice re­port and be­gan plan­ning how to pay for the rest of our stay in Vic­to­ria and re­turn home.”

While Wha­ley was fret­ting, a Cho­co­la­terie Bernard Calle­baut cus­tomer, whose iden­tity is not known, dis­cov­ered the wal­let in front of the Boughton St. store and turned it in to Cho­co­la­terie em­ployee Carey Boyd.

She put calls in to the two cruise ships docked in town to see if it be­longed to one of their pas­sen­gers.

It didn’t, so man­ager Brad Po­ten­tier locked the wal­let in the store safe for the night “and in the morn­ing I did my de­tec­tive work on it,” he said.

Through Wha­ley’s Face­book page, Po­ten­tier dis­cov­ered Wha­ley’s son John worked at Phoenix Univer­sity, an on­line col­lege.

He called the univer­sity’s gen­eral in­for­ma­tion line and was met with some skep­ti­cism.

“Very much so,” he said. “I’m call­ing a 1-800 num­ber, plead­ing my case, ‘Can you put me through to this guy?’

“In the end, I guess I did a good job.”

The son called his fa­ther, who came down to the store an hour later to re­trieve the wal­let, which con­tained Wha­ley’s vet­eran’s, medi­care and credit cards and his driver’s li­cence.

“And there was a sub­stan­tial amount of money in a se­cret com­part­ment,” Po­ten­tier said.

In all, it took Po­ten­tier about an hour and 20 min­utes to track down Wha­ley.

“Zach is full of vigour and vi­tal­ity. On my per­sonal au­then­tic­ity scale, he was tick­ing all through all the boxes,” Po­ten­tier said. “He bought some choco­lates, we had a great haha about it. He’s such an en­tirely charis­matic guy.”

Wha­ley said he prayed the wal­let had been picked up by a home­less per­son, whom he hoped would use the cash to buy a warm jacket for the com­ing win­ter.

There was $US111 in­side, plus a $US250 cash card.

“Brad went to great lengths to find me,” Wha­ley said from Sun Lakes, Ari­zona, where he and his wife Mar­cie live in a re­tire­ment cen­tre south of Phoenix. “Brad and the man who found my bill­fold are wor­thy of hon­our for their hon­est and ef­fort to help a vis­i­tor to Vic­to­ria.”

There was no cash re­ward of­fered, but Wha­ley did buy choco­lates.

“My re­ward is the wal­let get­ting back into the hands of its right­ful owner,” Po­ten­tier said.

Wha­ley, mean­while, said he’d al­ready writ­ten off the $111 in cash, so a mis­sion for chil­dren in Africa is a lit­tle richer.

“The cash was lost to me al­ready,” he said, “so I do­nated it to char­ity.”

MAR­CIE WHA­LEY SUB­MIT­TED PHOTO/

Zach Wha­ley holds up the bill­fold he thought he’d lost for good in Vic­to­ria last Fri­day, but a Vic­to­ria store man­ager per­se­vered in sleuthing and tracked the 85-year-old down.

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