Wallet found at Everett hospital spurs stories of its owner

Years and years ago, Larry Corbaley must have had a bad day. He lost his wallet.

That’s known only because Steve Jesmer recently found it. Unfortunately, Jesmer can’t give it back — not to Corbaley.

A longtime pharmacist who owned Larry’s Pharmacy in Mukilteo, Corbaley died in 2000.

Jesmer is a senior engineer at Providence Regional Medical Center Everett’s Colby Campus. He found the black leather wallet, which likely disappeared about 40 years ago, while doing remodeling work in a fifth-floor room of the hospital’s older building, called the A Wing.

It was Jan. 8, and he was working on a heater in room 522.

“The billfold was between a control valve and an opening in the wallboard,” Jesmer said.

He showed it to a supervisor, and they looked at the contents. There was a driver’s license, a Social Security card, a pharmacist’s credentials and military identification — Corbaley was a Navy veteran. An Arco gas credit card had a 1973 expiration date. Corbaley’s driver’s license was due to expire in 1974. And there was cash — three $1 bills, each dated 1969.

“It’s amazing what you can learn about someone in a wallet,” said Jeanette Hoffman, an executive assistant at the hospital.

Close inspection raises a little mystery. On his driver’s license, Corbaley’s birthdate is printed as Feb. 15, 1926, but the military card shows him to be a year older, with a Feb. 15, 1925, birth date. Did he add a year to his age to join the Navy early?

A larger mystery is whether Corbaley was a patient or a visitor, at what was then Everett General Hospital, when his wallet went missing. “We don’t know,” said Cheri Russum, a hospital spokeswoman.

The man’s nephew was the first relative contacted by the hospital.

“They had my name. I was in the phone book,” said Craig Corbaley, 60, who lives in Mukilteo. His late father, Art Corbaley, was Larry’s brother.

Craig Corbaley helped the hospital contact Kathy Corbaley, the late pharmacist’s daughter. She lives in Eastern Washington near Lake Roosevelt.

“We are going to send the wallet back to Kathy,” Russum said Tuesday.

It wouldn’t surprise Kathy Corbaley if her father did indeed fudge his birthdate to join the Navy. “Dad definitely would do that,” she said. Her father, who studied pharmacy at Washington State University, “was a workaholic,” she said.

He grew up in Puyallup, and according to family lore weighed just 2 pounds at birth.

Kathy Corbaley, 61, said he started Larry’s Pharmacy in the 1950s in the location that’s now Arnies Restaurant in Mukilteo. She grew up in Mukilteo and attended the old Rosehill School near her father’s store. He later moved to Stanwood, and opened a pharmacy in Mount Vernon.

Among cards in the wallet was a 1973 calendar from Larry’s Pharmacy in Mount Vernon. Corbaley later moved back to Mukilteo and had another pharmacy there. He was also on the Mukilteo City Council in the late 1970s.

Craig Corbaley said his uncle had suffered a stroke and cancer before he died. He joked about the “three whole dollars” in the wallet. But Jesmer said that in the early 1970s, when gas was about 30 cents a gallon, $3 could gas up a car and buy lunch.

Kathy Corbaley can’t remember her dad losing a wallet. “I wasn’t living at home then. By 1972, I had already gone to college,” she said.

Knowing her father’s character, she doubts he was too upset.

“I imagine Dad just took it in stride,” she said. “He would have just replaced everything — and not in a hurry.”

Julie Muhlstein: 425-339-3460, muhlstein@heraldnet.com.

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