The wallet of a former Lowndes High School student who later died in Vietnam was returned Wednesday to his mother more than 35 years after it was lost.

The wallet of Danny Lee Lightsey was found about four years ago in the ceiling of a gymnasium office at Lowndes Middle School, which used to be the high school, when workers were installing an air conditioning unit.

A worker gave the wallet to Scott Dyess, a physical education teacher, who kept it in his desk drawer in hopes of one day returning it to Lightsey.

"I tried at the time to find information on him to return it, but never could," Dyess told The Valdosta Daily Times.

He said his wife recognized Lightsey's name in the newspaper's Veterans' Day publication.


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Lightsey, an Army cook, died in 1971 after a stove exploded.

Betty Lightsey has saved every memory of her son and thought she had everything until Dyess returned her son's wallet.

"I sure am thankful to you. A lot of people would have just thrown it away," Lightsey said to Dyess. "If I had known that billfold was out somewhere, it would have drove me crazy."

The two tried to determine how the wallet was placed in the ceiling at the school where Danny graduated in 1968.

"The only thing I could imagine is maybe some of the kids were playing a prank on him," Dyess said. "I was curious to know if he ever mentioned losing his wallet to you."

That was too long ago for Lightsey to recall