TULSA, Okla. – The winner of a rusted 1957 Plymouth Belvedere that was unearthed last week from a leaky vault in Tulsa died in 1979, and the ownership of the car will pass to his closest living relatives.
When the car was buried in 1957, more than 800 people submitted guesses on what Tulsa's population — which was around 250,000 in 1957 — would be in 2007. Guesses ranged from zero to 2 billion, but Raymond E. Humbertson's guess of 384,743 was only slightly off the official U.S. Census count of 382,457.
Tulsa officials announced Friday that Humbertson had won the two-door hardtop Belvedere that drew international attention when it was pulled from the vault on June 15.
His nephew, Donald Humbertson of Woodbridge, Va., said that Raymond Humbertson died of cancer at age 57 and his wife, Margaret Humbertson, died in 1988. Raymond and Margaret Humbertson had no children, their nephew said.
Raymond Humbertson's closest living relatives are two elderly sisters in Maryland, Donald Humbertson said.
The Oklahoma Centennial Commission will have a trust company speak with the Humbertson family about the family's wishes for the car, centennial events co-chairwoman Sharon King Davis said Saturday.
Donald Humbertson said that his uncle was a career Marine and a Korean War veteran who spent his final years as an administrator at a community college in northern Virginia.
"He was just sort of a happy-go-lucky guy," Donald Humbertson said.
The family coincidentally had a reunion planned for Saturday to unveil a monument in a cemetery in Cumberland, W.Va.
"This will probably give us something to talk about," said Dina Lawyer, Raymond Humbertson's grandniece.
Had it been in good condition when it was lifted from its vault under the lawn of the Tulsa County Courthouse, the gold-and-white Belvedere could have been worth as much as $50,000, but because of massive water damage, its value now mostly is historical.
The winner of the car also will receive a $100 savings bond buried with it.