Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller and representatives of the Indiana Unclaimed Money team presented Mecum with a big check Wednesday morning at the Inn at DePauw.
The undisclosed amount represents "significant money" in interest and dividends from 13 different stock properties Mecum once held in a company, officials said.
"I've got another one (check) coming from Duke Energy," the eighty-something Mecum added as he posed with Zoeller jointly holding a lottery winner-sized check.
Unclaimed property can come from last pay checks, utility deposits, insurance checks, trusts or any accounts consumers somehow lose track of through moving or changing jobs, banks or insurance companies.
"For the life of them, people don't know how they lost track of it," Zoeller said.
Mecum, however, knows all too well.
Back in 2004, he and wife Maria were driving on State Road 240, crossing State Road 75 when their car was T-boned by a teenager in a pickup truck. The impact shoved their car into a ditch, where they missed colliding with a bridge abutment by less than a foot, Mecum explained.
"It ripped the side right off the car, but I didn't have a scratch," he said.
His wife was not so lucky.
"My wife is a stoic," Mecum said, yet her injuries put her into a coma for three months at St. Vincent Hospital, Indianapolis.
Six days a week Mecum was at her hospital bedside, holding her hand and singing to her. On the seventh day, son Fred took on the same duty.
The Indiana attorney general was impressed.
"She is a lucky woman," Zoeller praised.
But her rehab was lengthy and things admittedly piled up at the Mecums' Bloomington Street home.
"I like to put first things first," the former romance languages professor who came to DePauw in 1968 said. "Taking care of her was No. 1.
"She came through it, but everything was piling up on me. We had lots of mail I didn't open. We're still recovering from it, still unpacking boxes."
In the meantime, the money -- unbeknownst to Mecum -- was lost.
"Money's not that important," Mecum said, turning to Zoeller to add, "How many people have you run into who say money's not important?"
Zoeller more or less ran into one of those people Wednesday night at the Indiana State Fair. Checking the website (www.Indianaunclaimed.com) for a fair visitor, Zoeller and his crew found $36,000 for one Hoosier.
"He still doesn't believe us," Zoeller said.
"He thinks it's a scam," added Jaime Higgins, the public outreach officer for the Unclaimed Money Division of the Indiana Attorney General's Office.
Last year alone, the Attorney General's Office returned more than $40 million to Hoosiers.
Overall, the state's unclaimed property database holds more than $350 million in assets, including $711,518 representing 1,281 properties belonging to Putnam County residents or former residents. Unclaimed property, incidentally, does not include real estate or abandoned vehicles.