Richard Hatfield on the line

Sharing the windfall

CINDY BARRETT April 14 1986
Richard Hatfield on the line

Sharing the windfall

CINDY BARRETT April 14 1986

Sharing the windfall

Jean-Guy Lavigueur gained a new friend and more than $7 million last week—after he lost his wallet. The 51-year-old Montreal widower, a father of three, was expecting his first welfare payment last week after exhausting his unemployment insurance. For 32 years Lavigueur had worked for a bedding company before it went out of business 18 months ago. But a chain of events on Easter weekend took Lavigueur off welfare. And William Murphy, the 28-year-old unemployed Vancouver native who found the lost wallet containing the winning Lotto 6/ 49 ticket worth $7,650,267, also won his war on poverty. A beaming Lavigueur gave Murphy $1,275,044.

Last month Lavigueur, his three children (Sylvie, 19, Yves, 18, and Michel, 14) and his brother-in-law JeanMarie Daudelin, 43, bought six lottery tickets from the dépanneur Hébert near the Lavigueurs’ east-end secondstorey flat. But then Jean-Guy lost his wallet containing about $18 and the tickets. On March 30, Murphy found the wallet while he was delivering circulars. He examined the driver’s licence inside and, before dropping the wallet in a nearby mailbox, removed the lottery tickets.

Four hours later, over coffee and a newspaper, Murphy realized that he held the winning ticket in the lottery. He briefly fantasized about living the life of a millionaire, but then decided to return the ticket. He remembered most of the address on the licence and

found his way to the Lavigueur home. Yves Lavigueur, who was suspicious of the English-speaking stranger at his front door, rudely warned him away. But Murphy returned the following night with a bilingual friend. His persistence paid off: “When he showed me the ticket, I told him he deserved a million too,” said Jean-Guy.

The story quickly moved around the media circuits of the world on April 1. Although Lavigueur’s phone number is not listed in the current Montreal phone book, long-lost acquaintances suddenly reappeared to renew friendships after the Montreal Gazette published his street name. And one taxi driver pulled up to the Logan St. house and asked to borrow several thousand dollars so he could open a Dunkin’ Donuts franchise.

At a Lotto 6/49 reception last week, Murphy said he planned to give up his $90-a-month rented room and was considering returning to Vancouver. The Lavigueurs, meanwhile, contemplated their windfall. Jean-Guy intended to buy a mobile home. Sylvie planned to finish university. Yves contemplated travelling abroad and investments. Michel, whose funds will be held in trust until he turns 18, took the week off school. As the Lavigueurs left a beery reception, Yves called to his father in French: “Hey, Pa, I hope we’re going to take a taxi home, right?”

At a Lotto 6/49 reception last week, Murphy said he planned to give up his $90-a-month rented room and was considering returning to Vancouver. The Lavigueurs, meanwhile, contemplated their windfall. Jean-Guy intended to buy a mobile home. Sylvie planned to finish university. Yves contemplated travelling abroad and investments. Michel, whose funds will be held in trust until he turns 18, took the week off school. As the Lavigueurs left a beery reception, Yves called to his father in French: “Hey, Pa, I hope we’re going to take a taxi home, right?”

CINDY BARRETT

BRUCE WALLACE

in Montreal