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Unnamed man from this province returned lost purse to American traveller in Tampa airport
She didn’t recognize the voice calling her name in a busy American airport.
It turned out that the man looking for her was a Newfoundlander, whom she later called “a life saver.”
Kathryn Madera Miller of Ames, Iowa, had been frantically waiting for almost an hour at Tampa International Airport in Florida on Tuesday, March 19, for word about the status of her purse, which she had mistakenly left on a shuttle bus from her hotel to the airport.
The small, black, over-the-shoulder bag contained money, IDs, credit cards and other personal items. She was panicking, thinking it was all gone.
“Oh, I was in a (tizzy). My life was in that bag,” said the 81-year-old, who had kept her passport in her pocket and had already lined up and checked in for her United flight by the time she noticed her bag was missing. “I couldn’t believe I was so foolish to do such a thing.”
Miller and her husband, John Miller, immediately rushed to tell airline staff, who contacted their hotel and the shuttle service.
“She was just devastated,” 87-year-old John Miller said about his wife. “We were desperately trying to think what could we do. We never thought it would be found.”
The couple was sitting on a bench near the customer service desk when they heard the man calling her name.
“I don’t know what I would’ve done had it not been for his kindness and generosity.” — Kathryn Miller
“I looked over and here was this man waving my bag in the air. I went running over and he told us he had found my bag on the shuttle (bus),” she said. “Oh my gosh, I couldn’t believe it. I was so grateful. I thanked him profusely.
“I don’t know what I would’ve done had it not been for his kindness and generosity.”
She described him as a tall, heavy-set man, who looked between 30 and 40 years old.
“He looked like a big teddy bear,” she said. “And he had the nicest smile.”
In their brief conversation, the man told them he was from Newfoundland. Miller quickly replied that they had visited the province a handful of years ago, stopping in St. John’s, Gros Morne National Park and L’anse aux Meadows as part of the Road Scholars travel program for seniors.
“It’s such a wonderful place,” Kathryn Miller said, “and the people are so nice.”
The fact that this man had generously returned her purse, with all its contents, reiterated that fact for her.
However, in her moment of stress and excitement of having her bag returned, she didn’t get the man’s name.
"He saved my life and I need to properly thank this wonderful, friendly man for being so nice to this stupid, old American.” — Kathryn Miller
“I don’t know where he was going, where he was coming from either or who he was travelling with. I don’t even know how he found us,” said Miller, who also doesn’t know what part of Newfoundland he’s from.
“I was just wrapped up in the moment, I didn’t get any of that, but I wish I had have. I certainly regret that now.”
Now, the couple is determined to find him to show their appreciation.
“He’s probably not the kind of man who would accept money. If we pulled out money, I’m sure he’d turn it down,” said Miller, who added that she and her husband could perhaps donate to a charity of the man’s choice.
“But I thought it would be nice if he could get some kind of recognition. He saved my life and I need to properly thank this wonderful, friendly man for being so nice to this stupid, old American.”