At 101 years old, Roy Rotz ever expected to see his wallet again.
It was 1941, in the midst of WWII, and Roy Rotz was on an assembly line at Douglas Aircraft in Santa Monica, California, helping build a British bomber. He was an electrical inspector, and it was his job to climb through the nooks and crannies of the planes.
He remembers one particular day like it was yesterday: the day his his wallet slipped from his pocket.
“I looked in every one of the airplanes I worked on and couldn't find it. No luck,” Rotz, who now resides in Peachtree City, Georgia, recalled to Fox46 Charlotte.
Seventy-seven years later, at the impressive age of 101, Rotz finally has his wallet back. The way it came to him is nothing short of an odyssey.
A man by the name of Edgar Warren Birds came across the wallet in the belly of a bomber in Derbyshire, England, where he was stationed with the Royal Airforce. Birds not only held onto the wallet for decades, he even passed it on to relatives when he died, Fox46 reports. Two generations, to be exact.
Eventually, the wallet came into the possession of Birds’ granddaughter, Diane MacKinnon of Scotland, who set out to find Rotz online. She hoped to connect with a member of his family. She never expected that he’d still be alive, and thriving, in Peachtree City, Georgia.
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“She was shocked...she didn’t know her grandfather because he passed away a few decades ago," Cindy Williams, Rotz’ daughter told Fox46. "So she was hoping that my 'DD' had somehow known her grandfather. But that wasn’t the story.”
With the help of Williams, MacKinnon was able to return the wallet to Rotz, who celebrated his 101st birthday in December.
Inside the wallet was Roy’s driver's license, which included his address at the time: the USS Phoenix.
“I wonder about that. Why would he keep a strange wallet? Keeping it and passing it on to his son and daughter. I can’t imagine someone doing that,” Rotz mused.
Whatever his motivations, Rotz hopes to continue the odd tradition. He told Fox46 that he also plans to pass on the wallet, and its story, to his family.