When Evelyn May’s family broke up in 1946 in Yakima, Wash., she wasn’t sure she’d ever see her 3-year-old son Tommy Anthony DeRosa again. In 1982, after a series of phone calls and with the help of state police agencies on opposite coasts, May was reunited with Tommy when he traveled from his home in New York to Hermiston to meet her, as well as five siblings and their families.
May’s other children, including sons Walt and John Blankenship and daughters Mary Kligel, Carol Longhorn and Janet Bailey, knew they had another brother, but weren’t sure where he was. May thought Tommy’s father might have taken him to New York after the couple split up. “We used to watch American Bandstand on television, and Mom would say, ‘Watch for your brother.’ She had some baby pictures, that was all,” said Kligel.
Walt Blankenship took the initiative and began a search for Tommy. He spent $104 on phone calls and learned that there were 15 Anthony DeRosas listed in New York phone directories. When he asked an officer with the Oregon State Police in Hermiston for advice, it was suggested he contact the New York State Police.
Not only did state police in New York locate the correct Anthony DeRosa, they handed off a letter to him written by Walt. DeRosa immediately called Walt, asking, “What took you so long?” He said he had always hoped he had siblings, but didn’t know how to find them, or if they even existed. He was told as a boy not to ask about his mother.
DeRosa next called his mother, by chance on her birthday, and told her that not only had she found her long-lost son, but also a daughter-in-law, Lynn, and four grandchildren.
DeRosa flew into the Tri-Cities Airport on Jan. 17, 1982, and was immediately swept into the arms of a family he hadn’t even dreamed of just a month before. He spent two weeks getting acquainted with his mother and a few dozen family members before returning to Queens, N.Y., where he worked as a truck driver and supervisor at a dairy. DeRosa planned to bring his family for another visit the following summer.