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How long do you wait for the family to respond? What if they respond but don't follow up?


RDUNE
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In a nutshell: I have some items (dog tags, photos, patches, etc) from a local vet that I've decided to move along. In re-researching it I came across his obituary and thought I'd reach out to some of his family. I contacted the funeral home, explained the situation and asked them to forward my contact info to the family, and I never heard anything back. I found a grandson on facebook, sent a message and got no response. I know a couple people who know him, so I asked them to put me in contact, still nothing. I even called this guys gym to get a message to him, still nothing. Finally got a message from him, he wants the stuff, didn't ask any questions about how I ended up with it. I've sent a couple more messages about getting together and haven't gotten any follow up from him. Frankly, if I found out someone had my grandfathers military items I'd be on their doorstep ASAP, but I'm getting the feeling that this guy doesn't really care one way or the other. 

 

So my question is: How much time and effort should I invest in trying to re-unite this stuff with the vets family? The grandson is the only person who even responded to my contact attempts, and he doesn't seem all that interested. I can't hang onto this stuff indefinitely just waiting for him to get back to me, but I also feel an obligation to make a reasonable effort. Where do I draw the line for "reasonable effort"? 

 

Thanks for any thoughts or advice!

-Ryan 

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Cobra 6 Actual

Ryan, my opinion is that you have gone as far as you can with this. Perhaps even farther than most of us! However, if you posted one last message to him on Facebook that if you don’t hear from him by X date with his intentions to purchase or not, you have no choice but to move forward to selling the items on X site.

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Yep...I agree with Cobra 6. You've done more than enough. I'd give them a deadline and if they don't respond, that's that. 

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sundance

Sounds like you've already bent over backwards. Give him a drop dead date to close the deal.

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Thor996

I'd say you already went that mile and more. ONE time I reached out to a veteran's family and after the responses I got: I will NEVER do it again under any circumstance.

 

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Willy1690

There's usually a good reason that these items end up out there. There's times when the family just doesn't care about "grandpas war junk" other than the monetary value, if they discover that. 

 

I once had an extensive grouping to a pretty famous group of soldiers that was given to me by one of the men. I had it for around ten years before they got publicly famous. When he passed away, the family, who I knew well, contacted me and asked for their fathers stuff back. I gave it all back to them only to discover that it was on eBay and sold when offered a ton of money for it off eBay by a very well known collector.  This is why I will NEVER return an item to a family. Sounds harsh but burned once is enough for me!

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Vanderbilt
2 hours ago, Willy1690 said:

There's usually a good reason that these items end up out there. There's times when the family just doesn't care about "grandpas war junk" other than the monetary value, if they discover that. 

 

I once had an extensive grouping to a pretty famous group of soldiers that was given to me by one of the men. I had it for around ten years before they got publicly famous. When he passed away, the family, who I knew well, contacted me and asked for their fathers stuff back. I gave it all back to them only to discover that it was on eBay and sold when offered a ton of money for it off eBay by a very well known collector.  This is why I will NEVER return an item to a family. Sounds harsh but burned once is enough for me!

....not wanting anything from your elders seems to be the mindset today. My brother wanted the family home after we sold the family farm land. Once he passed, his kids literally parked a dumpster beside the front door and and threw out everything! Families only seem to care about heirlooms, keepsakes, furniture, cars, tools, awards et al. If they have monetary value and immediate buyers! It was with my mothers blessing my wife and I went thru and sorted thru the house before she passed away. Otherwise, imagine the little candy box my Dad kept his military metals in would've likely never been bothered with.

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kfields

Yeah I wouldn't even reach out one last time.  You've gone above and beyond.

I've come to the conclusion that most family military stuff does NOT stay with the family, ever. Grandson doesn't want it either or he would be all over your offer!

Keep it or sell it, and move on.

Kim

 

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cutiger83

While I agree that the OP has tried to do as much as possible to return these items to the family, I do not agree with the other responses. To blankly state "military stuff does NOT stay with the family, ever" or state "I will never" is completely wrong. Stop lumping the few in with the many. How would you feel if someone told you "I will never"?  Every situation is different. 

 

..Kat

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Willy1690
39 minutes ago, cutiger83 said:

While I agree that the OP has tried to do as much as possible to return these items to the family, I do not agree with the other responses. To blankly state "military stuff does NOT stay with the family, ever" or state "I will never" is completely wrong. Stop lumping the few in with the many. How would you feel if someone told you "I will never"?  Every situation is different. 

 

..Kat

I WILL NEVER, EVER return anything back to a family. They've had 80+ years to get the items and if they had interest they would have obtained the stuff a long time ago. In my experience, of going to swap meets in S. Cal in the late 60's-80's, very few gave a rats patootie about the items. All of a sudden they find out it's worth some green they want it. Now, I do know that some really do want it to be in the family, as they should. I have also never asked a veteran for any of their items. Most of the time they told me to take it or the family would just throw it out. 

 

A local SF veteran passed away some years ago. His son called me and told me if I wanted any of the stuff I needed to get down there ASAP as the rest of the family had already hauled some stuff to the dump. I got down there to save very little of it. Went to the dump that day and it had already been bulldozed. 

 

If they want it, then pay me retail,  then they are welcome to do whatever they want with it. 

 

I can rest easy and say NEVER.

 

 

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The Rooster

I would not bother. You have to remember, even though you value these items. The fact is, the family didn't.

Thats how they wound up where you found them. I found a copy of a rare first edition POW's book and I posted it on this forum. The book was signed by the POW and it was prob worth 500 bucks. I was contacted by the Mans Daughter on here who wanted to buy it from me. I sold it to her for what I got it for$60.000.00 because it was her Dads and I didnt want to, well felt bad asking what it was worth.

So I sold it to her, she sent me $80.00 and I never heard another word about it and to this day I somewhat regret selling it. No offense to anyone who reads this, but......................

If the family really cared about their loved ones service, if it really meant something to them, then these items would never find their way to flea markets, garage sales or online on ebay or in some cases in the garbage. etc etc.

 

Keep what you find. If the family gave a rats rusty they would still have it in the majority of cases.

There are exceptions but mostly the family loses the items because they really are not interested in the stuff.

A persons military service does not mean the same thing to everyone.

 

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Hookemhorns88

IMO, you have done enough.  However, saying that the family does not want something is a broad statement. Perhaps a grandchild, neice, nephew, etc.  comes along (born) well after the items have been tossed and, after getting old enough and becoming interested, would like to have the items? They should pay up to get thiem back and they should understand the circumstances as such.

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manayunkman

I’ve returned scores of items to families usually for what I paid.

 

A few times for more than I paid and once I put it up for auction and they bid on it.

 

Ive been to many an estate auction where family members are paying crazy money to get things back.

 

Someone who drags their feet, who says yes but their actions say no, is not interested at the present time. 
 

Maybe down the road.

 

Are you going to sell the stuff? 
 

If so let the family know that if they  don’t get it it’s going to someone else.

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ottodog8

I do not criticize families for not keeping everything. If I kept all the sentimental stuff from my family, I would need a separate building as a museum. For example, my father was a fanatic salt water fisherman. He was an aeronautical engineer who designed parts of the Lunar Module that landed on the moon. But to him, the pinnacle of human achievement was to land a big (60# plus) striped bass from the beach. I never had the bug, although I have caught my share of fish. When he died, he left enough fishing gear to stock a store. Some of it was very collectible and valuable. Plugs and reels new in the boxes from the 1950s and 1960s, etc.

I sat on it for some years, finally gave it all to a friend who knew him and fished with him. I kept a few pieces that I knew he used and liked, but that was it. I told my friend it was his to do with as he liked, no strings attached. Keep it, sell it, give it away. Some he kept as keepsakes, some he uses, some he gave away to other guys my father fished with. 

My children, who never knew him, couldn't care less about it. When I croak what I kept will probably get tossed or given away. 

I could also go on about my mother's antique doll collection, which included her mother's antique doll collection. We're talking many hundreds. What a nightmare that was to deal with.

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manayunkman
1 hour ago, ottodog8 said:

I do not criticize families for not keeping everything. If I kept all the sentimental stuff from my family, I would need a separate building as a museum. For example, my father was a fanatic salt water fisherman. He was an aeronautical engineer who designed parts of the Lunar Module that landed on the moon. But to him, the pinnacle of human achievement was to land a big (60# plus) striped bass from the beach. I never had the bug, although I have caught my share of fish. When he died, he left enough fishing gear to stock a store. Some of it was very collectible and valuable. Plugs and reels new in the boxes from the 1950s and 1960s, etc.

I sat on it for some years, finally gave it all to a friend who knew him and fished with him. I kept a few pieces that I knew he used and liked, but that was it. I told my friend it was his to do with as he liked, no strings attached. Keep it, sell it, give it away. Some he kept as keepsakes, some he uses, some he gave away to other guys my father fished with. 

My children, who never knew him, couldn't care less about it. When I croak what I kept will probably get tossed or given away. 

I could also go on about my mother's antique doll collection, which included her mother's antique doll collection. We're talking many hundreds. What a nightmare that was to deal with.

Doll collection, I laughed at that. 
 

Ive liquidated quite a few doll collections.
 

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Thor996
4 hours ago, Willy1690 said:

I WILL NEVER, EVER return anything back to a family. They've had 80+ years to get the items and if they had interest they would have obtained the stuff a long time ago. In my experience, of going to swap meets in S. Cal in the late 60's-80's, very few gave a rats patootie about the items. All of a sudden they find out it's worth some green they want it. Now, I do know that some really do want it to be in the family, as they should. I have also never asked a veteran for any of their items. Most of the time they told me to take it or the family would just throw it out. 

 

A local SF veteran passed away some years ago. His son called me and told me if I wanted any of the stuff I needed to get down there ASAP as the rest of the family had already hauled some stuff to the dump. I got down there to save very little of it. Went to the dump that day and it had already been bulldozed. 

 

If they want it, then pay me retail,  then they are welcome to do whatever they want with it. 

 

I can rest easy and say NEVER.

 

 

 

Amen and put me in the NEVER chorus with ya.

 

 

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cutiger83

For every family member that does not keep every single solitary military item, there is a collector who will gouge a family member/veteran to get a "great deal" on an item. 

 

For every military item lost by a family, there is a military item found by a collector.

 

For every family member who would rather keep Grandpa's train set because of the memories of playing with the trains, there is a family member who would rather keep Grandpa's military items.  

 

For every collector who judges a family member and says "I will never sell to them" there is a collector who will go out of their way to help a family member locate and research their grandmother/grandfather's service. 

 

 

Long before i was born, my grandmother gave away all of my father's military items. I sure hope some collector is not out there bad mouthing my family.

 

I have learned to never judge someone until you have walked in their shoes. I have learned to never lump the many in with the few. No matter the circumstances.....but there are many who will disagree with me.....such is life....

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Willy1690
4 minutes ago, cutiger83 said:

For every family member that does not keep every single solitary military item, there is a collector who will gouge a family member/veteran to get a "great deal" on an item. 

 

For every military item lost by a family, there is a military item found by a collector.

 

For every family member who would rather keep Grandpa's train set because of the memories of playing with the trains, there is a family member who would rather keep Grandpa's military items.  

 

For every collector who judges a family member and says "I will never sell to them" there is a collector who will go out of their way to help a family member locate and research their grandmother/grandfather's service. 

 

 

Long before i was born, my grandmother gave away all of my father's military items. I sure hope some collector is not out there bad mouthing my family.

 

I have learned to never judge someone until you have walked in their shoes. I have learned to never lump the many in with the few. No matter the circumstances.....but there are many who will disagree with me.....such is life....

Blah, blah, blah. I have never gouged a veteran for anything. In fact, I've paid bills for them, taken them to Doctors and VA appointments, bought them food and paid for overseas trips for them, built shadow boxes for their medals and assorted items. Like I said, I've never asked them for anything but their friendship. 

 

Everyone gets a choice. I choose to NEVER give an item back to any family members. Until that's happened to you, no need to pop off. If you don't like my choice, disagree with it. Such is life.

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6th.MG.BN
3 hours ago, The Rooster said:

I would not bother. You have to remember, even though you value these items. The fact is, the family didn't.

Thats how they wound up where you found them. I found a copy of a rare first edition POW's book and I posted it on this forum. The book was signed by the POW and it was prob worth 500 bucks. I was contacted by the Mans Daughter on here who wanted to buy it from me. I sold it to her for what I got it for$60.000.00 because it was her Dads and I didnt want to, well felt bad asking what it was worth.

So I sold it to her, she sent me $80.00 and I never heard another word about it and to this day I somewhat regret selling it. No offense to anyone who reads this, but......................

If the family really cared about their loved ones service, if it really meant something to them, then these items would never find their way to flea markets, garage sales or online on ebay or in some cases in the garbage. etc etc.

 

Keep what you find. If the family gave a rats rusty they would still have it in the majority of cases.

There are exceptions but mostly the family loses the items because they really are not interested in the stuff.

A persons military service does not mean the same thing to everyone.

 

I used to think the same thing that the family didn't care about the item and let it go. That is sometimes the case, but I recently posted an item on the forum and was contacted by the veteran's granddaughter wishing to know how I got it and expressing an interest to purchase it from me. After exchanging emails, she sent me some pictures of her as a baby with her grandfather and also dancing with him at her wedding. She told me that the family including the veteran's son, her father, never knew what happened to the item, his named helmet, as her grandfather had given it to a neighbor years before. With the helmet came a signed book to the neighbor and the granddaughter reached out to him and verified he was given the helmet by her grandfather.

 She had also sent me some pictures of the medals he had won, including a Silver Star he won on Iwo Jima as EX of UDT-13. I felt honored to be able to unite it back to the family where it belonged. Do I wish I kept it, yes. But I wouldn't feel good about depriving his future descends of their father's/grandfather's historic service.

I will never assume that the family didn't want it again. We forget the veterans gave away many items when they returned home from their service when they were still alive.

Ken

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Thanks for all the input on the situation, it is appreciated. I reached out to the grandson again and told him if I don't hear from him by next week I'm going to drop the stuff off at the local museum and he can follow up with them if he wants the items. Not that the local museum will do anything with them besides put them in storage indefinitely. The group would be considered pretty low-value by collectors which is why I decided to offer it back to the family rather than sell it. If I didn't recoup my $40 at least I could generate some good karma, I guess. 

 

As for families and giving up the items to begin with, every situation is different. When I worked estate sales the various family situations lead to all kinds of disagreements about what to do with heirlooms. Some family members only saw dollar signs and some only saw memories. We handled an estate one time where we got a call from the guys son/executor saying "I'm on the other side of the country, just do the estate sale, clean out the house and send me a check or a bill". After we did that we were contacted by the other son who was furious because he was deployed and didn't know that had happened. Another time we were hired to clean out an attic and the guy said "I don't care what's up there, just throw it away". It was the guys entire family history, with photo albums, birth certificates, wedding dresses, keepsakes, etc and he had us toss all of it. I put some of it in my car and thankfully was able to contact his sister, who was extremely grateful we didn't just trash it all. Things make their way out of families in all kinds of ways, and not always to everyone's knowledge. 

 

I've had mixed results with sending things back to family members. The most heartwarming was when I sent an ID bracelet to the vets widow and her son sent me a picture of her wearing it and just beaming with happiness. The one that really rubbed me the wrong way was when I sent a Vietnam KIA Bronze Star back to the sister and never received a "thank you" or even acknowledgement that she had received it. We'd had a nice phone conversation prior to that and I told her how much I paid for the medal, and I should have held it until she paid me, but I sent it in good faith, only to be stiffed... 

 

Thanks again for sharing your thoughts and own experiences, 

-Ryan 

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