Good thing for Paul Riekhof that Holli Williams is no Mr. Potter.
Like the crotchety, greedy banker from “It’s a Wonderful Life,” Williams could have kept the $1,580 in lost cash that fluttered across her car as she drove through Prairie Village on Tuesday, running Christmas errands.
Instead, Williams returned the money to the Prairie Village man who had left the cash in an envelope on top of his car as he drove to see a movie on his 53rd wedding anniversary.
“I was sick to my stomach thinking this would ruin someone’s Christmas,” Williams, 55, of Overland Park, said Wednesday morning after returning the cash.
It was nothing short of a Christmas miracle for Riekhof, who intended to deposit the money from the sale of his brother-in-law’s vehicle.
“It was just wonderful fortune,” Riekhof said. “It proves that there’s awfully good people still out there today.”
Williams was driving east on Somerset Drive with her daughter when she saw what might have been blue coupons dancing across the windshield of her car. On second thought, she thought it might be cash.
She braked. Cash it was — bills had blown across three lawns.
“It was like a cloud of money blowing across the street,” Williams said. “We were running in traffic picking up $100 bills.”
Williams had only one clue to the rightful owner — a generic counter deposit slip without any personal information, but with the name of a bank.
She called the bank. They told her the money was technically hers, although they would check to see whether there were any inquiries about lost money.
She then placed a report with the Prairie Village Police Department, telling authorities only that she had found a large sum of cash but not disclosing the specific amount.
Meanwhile, Riekhof was furiously searching for the money, going so far as to retrace his trip to the movie theater in hopes of finding the cash-filled envelope.
“We looked everywhere in the house and couldn’t find it anywhere.”
Riekhof later filed a report with Prairie Village police. They in turn gave his phone number to Williams.
At 7:30 a.m. Wednesday, Riekhof received a call from Williams. They arranged for him to pick up the cash — 15 $100 bills and four $20 bills — at her workplace in Olathe.
“I just had this overwhelming feeling. I couldn’t believe someone had found it,” Riekhof said. “I just hope something very good happens to her. It is a wonderful Christmas.”