THUGGING RUGGISH LOAN: St. Louis Plasterers Local 3 Makes Up Lost Church Money That Flew Off Woman’s Car
In St. Louis, one union construction local is reminding us that despite the meaningless term “union thug” being used to portray organized blue collar workers as the nation’s boogeymen and women, they remain a vital part of our communities.
Shrewsbury resident Jane Corbett left an envelope with money raised by her church to feed the area’s homeless on the trunk of her car. As she pulled onto the highway, $835 began to spill out across the lanes. Behind her, Ray Leuthauser, a member of the Plaster’s Local 3, saw an opportunity that many of us have dreamed of (finding money!) but went the righteous route:
“I had to pick some people up, drop some items off, and then I was going to take the money to the couple in Ladue that buys the food for our days serving the homeless,” Corbett said. “I didn’t realize I didn’t have the money until I was on Clayton Road.”
Leuthauser, a member of Plasterers Local 3 and an employee of Niehaus Construction Services Inc., was on his way home from his current job site at Kenrick Seminary, just blocks from Corbett’s home.
“As I was going down the ramp onto 44, I noticed this envelope on the trunk of the car in front of me. And then when the car sped up, the money started flying everywhere,” said Leuthauser, a 48-year-old husband and father of two. “I started honking like crazy, but she didn’t hear me.”
Leuthauser stopped, pulled to the shoulder, grabbed the envelope and started picking up the money. “It was blowing all over, even across the median into the eastbound lanes. I managed to pick up $330.”
Fortunately, the envelope contained a Sam’s Club tax-credit card made out in the name of Sts. Peter and Paul. Leuthauser contacted the church and related the incident.
Corbett, who said she had been turning her car and home inside out trying to find the money, said she got a call from a church worker about 9 p.m. Monday.
“They just told me to call this guy,” Corbett said, grabbing Leuthauser’s hand one of the many times she did so during the interview Thursday. “I was so thrilled that someone found the money, and returned it. I had been praying for that all day.”
It was when Leuthauser stopped by Corbett’s house Tuesday morning to return the cash that she told him more than $500 was lost in the wind.
“I told him not to worry, I’d just make up the difference out of my own money,” Corbett said.
“Also, I gave him a little card and I put $25 in it for him to get a nice lunch.
“I guess he opened it shortly after he got to work, because he was back at my house a little later. He not only refused to keep the $25, he gave me $20 he had in his wallet,” she said.
The story could end right there and we would all think Leuthauser was a great guy, but what comes next is what makes the story exceptional. Corbett had mentioned that she scared because she was going to have to take the $835 out of her bank account. Leuthauser realized she would have to make up the funds that had not been recovered. After returning to work he mentioned what happened to his union brothers and sisters.
Leuthauser, an employee of Niehaus Construction Service and member of Plasterers’ Local #3, mentioned the woman’s plight at the job site.
Before he knew it his co-workers had passed the hard-hat and collected the money needed to make up the difference.
“She needed $475 and we got her back $505,” Leuthauser reports.
For one woman, one church group, and dozens of homeless men and woman, Leuthauser is a hero. It is a title he deems unworthy of his deed:
People have been calling Ray Leuthauser a hero for helping to turn around what could have been a terrible situation for a local charity.
“Well, I don’t see that,” he sheepishly responds to the “hero” tag. “I just happened to be the one behind her and decided to do the right thing.”