Traverse City Record-Eagle

Northern Living

November 4, 2012

Mysteries surround discovery of buried billfold

TRAVERSE CITY — Glenn Floering had often heard the story of how his father joined the U.S. Air Force in 1957 and shipped off to the Philippines, where he met and married Glenn's mother.

The young couple celebrated by borrowing a military police car and driving around Luzon Island where Clark Air Base was located, lights flashing and siren blaring.

But it wasn't until recently, when Floering and his wife, Michelle, got a surprising phone call, that the story came back to mind.

"I said, 'Hello' and (the caller) said, 'I have information that will rock your world,'" said Michelle, director of bands at Grand Traverse Academy. "Honestly, I thought it was a scam. He said, 'My stepson was doing construction on Fremont Street in Las Vegas. He was digging into 10 inches of concrete and he found a wallet that belonged to Glenn's father.' Then he read his name: Kenny Stott Floering."

The wallet had disintegrated, but its contents were still intact, protected by plastic, Michelle said. Inside were Kenny's airman, meal and social security cards, and a picture of a Filipino woman in front of a house.

That caller was Terry Snyder, a North Las Vegas history buff and amateur artifact hunter who has found everything from an 1800s shovel from the infamous Delamar "Widow Maker Mining Camp" to a Pabst bottle from 1906, when the brewing company began to use bottle caps instead of corks.

"I hate to see any kind of history go unnoticed," said Snyder, a former construction worker currently recovering from a motorcycle accident. "There's times I've been out in the desert (after) a landlord loaded up people's belongings and dumped them there and I'd find old family photos and try to get them back to the family. I'm a sucker for that kind of thing."

After going back to the construction site to retrieve the wallet, Snyder did an Internet search and learned that Kenny Floering died in 1992, followed by his wife, Manuela, in 1999. That left Floering and his sister, Lisa Haarbye, who lives in Norway.

So Snyder tracked down Floering, technology director at Bay Pointe Community Church and a professional musician who shared his father's love of jazz.

"He said he likes a good mystery," said Michelle, who delivered the news to an incredulous Floering after he returned home from a late-night gig.

Snyder mailed the wallet to the Floerings shortly after and researched the site where it was found. Floering believes the wallet went missing in 1961, when his dad, who grew up in La Porte, Ind., returned to the U.S. via Las Vegas to obtain an honorable discharge and permission to bring his new wife to the States.

At the time, the construction site was a women's clothing store owned by Mayer Jacob "Chic" Hecht, Snyder said. Hecht, who later became a Republican senator from Nevada, served as an intelligence agent with the U.S. armed forces during the Korean War, from 1951 to 1953, and was a member of the National Military Intelligence Association.

"The wild thing that we can't figure out is how did the wallet get there?" said Michelle. "Was it pickpocketed? Was (Kenny) visiting Mayer? Did it have something to do with the Central Intelligence Agency?"

Also puzzling: Why the wallet was in 10 inches of concrete when building codes of the time didn't require foundations that thick, and why the bones of an animal were found nearby.

Floering believes all three scenarios are possibilities. During his service, he said, his father was a communications radio operator who carried a cyanide pill to swallow in the event of imminent capture.

"Everything is conjecture at this point," he said. "I hope that someday when I'm in heaven I can ask him."

Both the couple and Snyder say they plan to continue their new friendship and to delve further into the intrigue. Whether or not they solve it, Floering said the mystery has helped him revisit memories of his parents.

"It's been a more rich experience to actually think about what their lives were like then, before I was born," he said. "Any way you can reach them after they've passed is a way to nurture memories and remember the love. It was a great opportunity that was given to us."

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