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Mystery wallet found in Tybee cottage wall returned to family 66 years later

Updated: Feb. 6, 2021 at 10:37 PM EST
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TYBEE ISLAND, Ga. (WTOC) - The story of a mystery wallet found hidden in the wall of an old Tybee Island cottage continues. WTOC brought you this story last week, and today the wallet is finally back in the right hands. It’s the story of a couple lost, but found more than 65 years later.

“It was very emotional. I cried. I actually cried, which I’m trying not to,” said Sheryl Lanier, whose mother Melba Lanier had lost the mystery wallet over 66 years ago.

Their 1935 cottage on Tybee Island has years of stories packed into it.

“He would love to see the first house they were ever in,” said Kevin Lanier, Sheryl’s brother.

One story in particular is the story of Jack and Melba Lanier.

“I wanna give them their mom’s wallet back that’s been missing since 1954,” said Mary Kay Andrews, the bestselling author who purchased the Tybee Island cottage.

That’s right, for more than 66 years the wallet sat amidst the walls.

“They found it down in here,” said Andrews.

It wasn’t until Mary Kay Andrews and her husband began renovations to the cottage that the wallet would be found – and it’s packed with memories.

“American Legion ID card, her commissary card is in here,” said Andrews.

Andrews says as an author, getting to the end of the story was her mission. Through one Facebook post she found the children of Jack and Melba Lanier and planned a little reunion at the house their parents once lived in.

“For us to have the treasure of seeing the house, I know he’s seeing us,” said Sheryl.

Kevin Lanier says of all the cards, bills and photographs one stands out more than the others.

“All of the photos I have at the house, he’s always in his Navy blues. I’ve never seen a picture in his Navy whites,” said Kevin, referring to his father Jack.

As the story unfolds, Kevin and Sheryl Lanier say one thing is really starting to make sense now.

“My mother would always say ‘Jack do you have your wallet?’” said Sheryl.

“‘Make sure you’ve got your wallet. Do you have your wallet?’ I was like you’re really hung up on this wallet, Mom.’ Now I know why. She lost her own wallet,” said Kevin.

As for the wallet, the story will live on for generations to come.

“It means so much and I’m definitely going to save it and put it in like a shadow box and remember it forever and then pass it down to my daughter and let her pass it down,” said Sheryl.

Andrews says the cottage’s renovations are scheduled to be done in the spring, after which it will be available to rent. Andrews says she plans to frame a picture of Jack and Melba Lanier to hang in the finished house as a keepsake.

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