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When WWII Vet's Beloved Hat Went Missing, City Jumped in to Help

William "Bill" Donnermeyer is well known to the people of Bellevue and its neighboring River Cities in Campbell County.

He represented the communities in the Kentucky House of Representatives from 1970 to 1994, and before that spent three terms on the Bellevue city council. Donnermeyer Drive is named for him.

On Wednesday, Donnermeyer returned to city council to share a story about a missing hat.

The hat recognizes Donnermeyer's service in World War II aboard the U.S.S. Weber and is special for two reasons: one, he was hoping to wear it when he participates in the next Honor Flight to Washington, D.C. on October 24, and two, because his wife, Mary Donnermeyer gave it to him.

Mary passed away in May at age 86.

Weeks ago, the hat vanished and Donnermeyer didn't know what happened to it.

"I couldn't find it any place," he recounted to council, his voice choked up when remembering his wife. He recalled that he had gone to church, that he had eaten at Bob Evans in Newport, and when the hat didn't turn up at either place, he figured "some kid on Division Street will pick it up."

And maybe the hat would be turned in to some lost and found somewhere. "I want my hat, I need my hat," he remembered thinking.

He knew he didn't leave it in the church but he went back anyway. Then, he went to the Bellevue city building where City Clerk Mary Scott contacted public works employees on Donnermeyer's behalf. They searched but came up empty. One employee, Christi Schehr, posted to the Bellevue Alliance group on Facebook on August 30 about the missing hat to get the community involved in the search.

He went back to Bob Evans just to check and a worker thought she had seen it somewhere, he said. Lo and behold, the beloved hat was in the restaurant's lost and found, and was returned to the Gentleman from Campbell.

"I go back home and you've got the (Labor Day) holiday," he said. He wanted to thank the city workers for their efforts but being a holiday, the offices were closed.

On Tuesday, Donnermeyer's doorbell rang. 

"I get up and here's this big guy there with a City of Bellevue thing on him and his truck is there and he said, are you Bill Donnermeyer? I said, yes I am. He said, we did everything we could to find your hat," Donnermeyer said. "He went on the internet and couldn't find anything. But he said, this came for you."

It was public works director Rick Mallory presenting Donnermeyer with a box, and inside was a new hat that read, U.S. Navy. Donnermeyer asked if the city paid for it and Mallory said no, that he had paid for it himself. "I wanted to thank you for your service," Donnermeyer recalled Mallory telling him.

Donnermeyer, now 93, looked at the members of council and thanked the city staff for what they did for him.

"We do have good people in this world," he said. "Remember that and love each other."

When Donnermeyer leaves on the Honor Flight later this month, he'll wear his U.S.S. Weber hat. Thanks to Mallory, his daughter, who is accompanying him, will wear the new U.S. Navy hat.
Written by Michael Monks, editor & publisher
Photo: Bill Donnermeyer and his hats (RCN)