DAVENPORT, IA-- A Davenport man and his sister met Saturday after 65 years apart thanks to the detective work of his landlord's 7-year-old son on Facebook.
Clifford Boyson, 66, and Betty Billadeau, 70, of Florissant, Mo., looked for each other for years before their separation ended in a conference room at Davenport's Hotel Blackhawk. Also present was Eddie Hanzelin, who said he had wanted to help Boyson because "Clifford did not have any family, and family's important."
As Billadeau walked through the door Saturday, her mouth dropped open. Boyson staggered a few steps backward.
"Oh my God," Boyson cried, before embracing Billadeau.
"You do have a sister," Billadeau said.
"You're about the same height Mom was," Boyson told her.
The siblings shared memories about their father, and Boyson gave Billadeau a bouquet of pink roses.
Boyson and Billadeau grew up in the foster care system. Each sibling had tried to pursue the other for years without any luck.
But 7-year-old Eddie cracked the case when he used his mother's Facebook account to search for Billeadeau by typing in her maiden name. When he saw her picture, he noticed a resemblance to his friend "Cliffie."
Boyson's landlord, Glenn Hanzelin, contacted Billadeau's daughter over Facebook. Last week, Boyson and Billadeau spoke through a video chat and made plans to meet in Iowa.
Getting to see his sister's face in person "was a lot better than on the computer," Boyson said. For her part, Billadeau said, "I'm amazed."
She said seeing Boyson "was like seeing my other brother," who died in 2007. "I've already lost a daughter and a husband, so it's good to get some family back."
Hotel Blackhawk provided accommodations for her family and arranged the reunion. Billadeau came to Iowa with her daughter, Sarah Billadeau, 42, and granddaughter, Megan Billadeau, 27, who both smiled and wiped away tears throughout the reunion. "Our whole family's criers," Megan said.
"He didn't have any women in his life," Sarah said. "We're going to get that straightened out real fast."
After the initial meeting, Megan presented Boyson with a suitcase, "so he can travel to St. Louis, no excuses," and a photo of Megan, Sarah and Betty. "I gotta get my picture in there," Boyson said.
Sarah then presented Eddie with a check from Billadeau and Boyson for $125 a scholarship fund in Eddie's name.
Eddie, a second-grader at Trinity Lutheran in Davenport, said he learned at school to help others.
His father said "we feel fantastic, what Eddie did." Mother Amy Hanzelin said, "Eddie's always been a sweet boy; he's always cared about others.
"That's his nature."
Despite his sleuthing skills, Eddie said he would rather be a veterinarian than a detective when he grows up. As for his computer prowess, he just likes "messing around" with the iPad. And Facebook, the social network that proved so vital in the search? "I really don't know" what it is, he said.
During the reunion, Eddie continued to "mess around" with the iPad, filming the first moment the siblings reunited, and minutes later, watching it over and over again.
"It's mind-boggling," Billadeau said. "Who knew a little boy would cause this much?"
Des Moines Register