Sue Towns has been flooded with emails and calls after a Journal-World article on Sunday about her looking for her childhood hero.
The retired Derby teacher might never get a definitive answer, but says it’s been a great experience.
“I spent all day yesterday responding,” said Towns. “This has been an amazing ride. Hearing people’s positive responses about different individuals is quite heartwarming.”
Towns has been trying to find a mystery man who used to give her a nickel every day as she walked from her house in the 400 block of Perry Street to school at Lincoln Elementary in Lawrence in 1957.
Towns had little information about the man, other than he worked for the Union Pacific Railroad, which had a station house Towns would pass by on her walk to school.
Towns had a rough family life, and would later be removed from her home. She thinks the man gave her the nickel after noticing that she was very thin for her age. Towns would head to a local store with her nickel and buy herself a Moon Pie.
Several people have responded to Towns following the story, with the names of men they think could be her mystery hero.
Lawrence resident Robert Muzzy, who worked at Union Pacific in Lawrence in 1957, said he thinks the man is Jeff Tipton, who was a crossing watchman for the railroad. Muzzy said Tipton died in 1958. Muzzy was one of the pallbearers. Tipton was single and lived with a sister, who has also since died, Muzzy said.
Muzzy, however, said he never saw Tipton giving Towns a nickel, but it sounds like something Tipton would’ve done.
“He was a good guy,” Muzzy said.
Meanwhile, Towns has heard from several people who mention a man with the last name “Gulley,” whose first name was “Logan” or “Louie.” The Social Security Death Index lists a Llewellyn Gulley, who was born in 1929 and died in 1997.
Towns said she may never be absolutely sure who the mystery man is, and she’s OK with that.
The whole experience has been a wild trip down memory lane, said Towns, who has been hearing from old friends who went to Lincoln Elementary with her. She’s also been contacted by a woman Towns thinks is a long-lost cousin.
“It’s been absolutely incredible,” Towns said.