Expecting about $700 for their unclaimed property, members of Paws-itive Partners Humane Society, Inc., of North Platte were stunned to receive a check for $2,077 from Nebraska State Treasurer Don Stenberg.
“We didn’t know until we opened the envelope,” said Jo Mayber, the organization’s persistent president who, with secretary Levaun Beyer and former treasurer Sharon Kinsinger, guided the effort to recover the lost money. Jo kept the amount a secret, and at the group’s next meeting, she asked for a drum roll for a major announcement.
Paws-itive Partners is a private, non-profit organization committed to educating pet owners about responsible pet care. The group helps low-income pet owners pay for spaying and neutering services through arrangements with veterinarians. The group also sponsors Paws-itive Kids to encourage the next generation of pet advocates and co-sponsors a pet food pantry, soliciting donations of money and food from as far away as Omaha.
“Our common bond is that we love animals,” Jo said. She said the unclaimed property money will be used to advance the organization’s mission.
Paws-itive Partners’ unclaimed property consisted of Lee Enterprises Inc. stock dividends that Sharon Kinsinger had intended for the organization. But when Sharon changed addresses, the dividends continued going to her old address, eventually ending up at the Treasurer’s Office. Complicating the situation was the fact the dividends were from stock Sharon originally had given to a different animal advocacy group, which had long ago stopped meeting.
Finally, when cleaning her garage, Levaun found papers that linked the Lee stock, Paws-itive Partners, and the earlier group. Those documents provided the missing piece that the Unclaimed Property Division needed to approve the claim.
Jo says she is grateful to claims specialist Ginny Smith who encouraged the group. “Even when we were ready to give up, she wouldn’t let us,” Jo said. “Bless her heart.”
As the second oldest of seven siblings, Vyanne Zink of Lincoln had the pleasure of surprising her family with sizeable checks from the Unclaimed Property Division of the Nebraska State Treasurer’s Office, just before Christmas 2015.
One of the first to respond was younger sister Jan Jamison. “I cried,” Jan texted. “One last Christmas present from Mom and Dad.” Youngest sister Mandy Shew texted, too: “Holy random dollar surprise, Batman! This is crazy!!!”
That’s exactly what it was, said Vyanne, who had been co-executor of her mother Carolee King’s estate. Vyanne and her brother, Joel, had carefully checked records in 2008 when their mother died, so learning the Treasurer’s Office was holding almost $8,000 in death benefits from Metropolitan Life, including smaller amounts from other sources, came as a complete surprise.
Vyanne and Joel provided the paperwork necessary to verify the claim without sharing information with their siblings. Vyanne divided the money among the six surviving siblings and the three sons of her deceased brother, Jared, of Hemingford. She sent a check and a letter to each—Celia Tran of Lincoln; Rev. Tori Hicks of Wasilla, Alaska; Jan Jamison of Kearney; Joel of Grand Island; Mandy Shew of Minneapolis; and Jared’s three sons.
“I liked surprising the siblings. I knew it was going to be something totally out of the blue,” Vyanne said.
Most of the King children grew up in Crete, where their father was a professor at Doane College. Later as a Methodist minister, he served churches in Palmer, Hemingford, and Mullen. When he died, their mother settled in Burwell.
Vyanne, a massage therapist, remembers her mother as smart, kind, resourceful, stubborn, and always tactful. She greeted her husband with a hug and kiss at the end of each workday. Any bad behavior by the King kids might have been overlooked, Vyanne said, “unless you made Mom cry and then you knew you were in for it.”
On the drive from their home in the Panhandle to their daughter’s home across the state, Charles Miller and his wife, Veronica, stopped in Lincoln to check on some unclaimed property.
Charles had received a letter from the Treasurer’s Office, but hadn’t responded, preferring to talk face-to-face. “People always want something, like your Social Security number,” he said. So, he proceeded thoughtfully and waited until he was in eastern Nebraska to stop by the Treasurer’s Office in Lincoln.
To his surprise, he learned the state was holding $7,200 in his name from AFLAC insurance. He doesn’t know more about the source of the money, and he is content to leave well enough alone. He used the money to pay off installment loans in anticipation of his retirement this spring from the Nebraska Department of Roads.
A maintenance supervisor, Charles is in charge of winter snow removal in the Panhandle and supervises the highway paint crew the rest of the year, averaging 300 to 400 miles a day on the road. He has worked for the state for 42 years.
The Millers live on a small farm near Minatare where Charles raises cattle and Boer goats, a specialty breed developed for meat production. After his retirement, he plans to golf, fish, hunt, play with the grandchildren, and travel. First on his list is Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
The Millers have five adult children and seven grandchildren, living from one end of the state to the other. Two live in Gering, one in Scottsbluff, another on a ranch near North Platte, and yet another in Gretna.
When asked what advice he would offer to others who receive letters from the Treasurer, he recommended they call the Treasurer’s Office to find out what’s going on. Call 8 to 5, Monday through Friday, at 402-471-8497 or 877-572-9688 toll free.
Therese and Dave Liegl call their latest home renovation, the “Larry Charko floor,” in loving memory of Therese’s dad, who died 40 years ago. The Liegls purchased the new flooring with money they received from the Unclaimed Property Division of the Treasurer’s Office.
Therese and three siblings shared a claim for more than $5,700 in dividends and shares from Principal Financial Group held in their father’s name. Lawrence Charko died of esophageal cancer at age 60 in 1975, when Therese was just 17.
The Charko children’s mother had died of a cerebral hemorrhage a year earlier at age 52. Stephen, the oldest, received a humanitarian leave from the U.S. Navy and came home to help. Eventually, the sons in the family, Stephen and Doug, moved away, and Therese and her younger sister, Donna, stayed in the family home, living on their own through high school and college.
“It was tough, but we were brought up Catholic and we relied on our faith,” Therese said. “The Lord put kind people in my life and good friends.”
The Liegls had been contacted earlier about the unclaimed property by a third-party finder who asked for a fee to claim the money. They knew, however, they could claim the money directly from the state without a fee.
Therese, a physical therapy technician, and Dave, a CPA and attorney, have four children and eight grandchildren, scattered from Colorado Springs; to St. Louis; to Endicott City, Maryland; all the way to Misawa, Japan. Therese said as a result of her experience, she consciously taught her children to be independent and to take care of themselves. When her parents died, she said, she didn’t know how to run the washing machine. “My mom did everything for us,” she said. Thankfully, she had learned to sew, bake, and cook in 4-H.
“I am just grateful for my parents and their planning,” Therese said. “And now they have helped us out, way later. In our faith, if they are in heaven, they are close to God, and they can basically put in a good word for us.”
Floyd and Peggy Harriger have lived in the same Fremont neighborhood all of their lives.
“A stone’s throw west is where I grew up,” said Floyd, 70, a retired mechanic and farm worker. His second oldest sister now lives in the home place. Another stone’s throw west is Peggy’s childhood home. Her oldest brother lives there now.
“Our moms were both widowed, and I just couldn’t see leaving. And we didn’t mind it here, so we stayed,” Floyd said. He and his siblings meet every Friday for breakfast at a Fremont restaurant. Children, grandchildren, and visiting relatives are always welcome. They all get along.
“That’s just the way we were raised,” Floyd said. “My mom wouldn’t have it any other way.”
Those close-knit family ties turned useful when the Treasurer’s Office started looking for Floyd. Unclaimed property specialist Ginny Smith called a phone number that turned out to be the number for Floyd’s sister and brother-in-law who live right behind the home place.
Floyd relayed the conversations. “Ginny asked, ‘Do you know Floyd Harriger?’ He said, ‘Yes. He’s my brother in law. Is he in trouble?’ She said, ‘No, quite the contrary.’” Floyd was about to receive $8,000 in unclaimed property from Pruco Life Insurance Co. for a policy purchased in 1975.
Floyd said he was pleased to learn about the money; Peggy, 66, a homemaker and retired nursing assistant, said the news was wonderful. “The whole family was excited about it,” Floyd said. The Harrigers plan to use the money on a new furnace.
Floyd and Peggy spend their retirement traveling to tractor shows and swap meets across the Midwest, searching for Minneapolis Moline parts and equipment. “I grew up with it,” Floyd says about his penchant for collecting. They also enjoy keeping up with their three children and two grandsons, ages 9 and 4.
The Unclaimed Property Division’s biggest cheerleader turns out to be a retired Omaha business owner who just happens to be a 4th degree black belt, a volunteer martial arts instructor, a fitness center regular, and a classics movie buff known by his friends as Netflix Norton.
“I thank the Lord every day,” said Jim Norton, 65, the retired owner of Empire Inc., an industrial laundry service started by his father, and a proud member of the Omaha Business Men’s Association.
The Nebraska State Treasurer’s Office also has been the recipient of Jim’s gratitude for helping him recover more than $50,000 in a matured CD in his late mother’s name. “I can’t speak highly enough of the professionalism exhibited by the State Treasurer’s Office,” he said.
Jim’s story began a few years back when he and his mother co-owned a CD through Capitol One Bank. His mother was an astute business woman who loved the business world and politics and lived independently in her own home until age 89. Monthly ACH interest payments from the CD went to his mother while she was living, and when she died in 2009, the payments were made to him. When the payments stopped unexpectedly in October 2015, he called the bank to ask why and was told the account had been closed.
“Just then my knees started shaking,” Jim recalled. His wife Joanna’s first thought was the possibility of identity theft. Jim quickly learned the money had been sent to the State of Nebraska.
Jim got online, searched for unclaimed property, and made a phone call to the Treasurer’s Office. “There are not enough adjectives,” he said to describe how well he was received. “Marilyn Marino reassured me that if the money was sent to the State of Nebraska, it would be there for me,” he said. “She put all my fears to rest.”
Jim drove to the Treasurer’s Office on Dec. 14 to pick up the check and share a few hugs and kisses on the cheek. (Jim, by the way, descends from Greek heritage.) By then, Marilyn had found a couple more small properties to add to the total. Jim said all of it went into a new CD for retirement.