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Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Popcorn Festival brings family together

Monday, February 13, 2006

Submitted photos

Top photo: Marc, Evelyn and Eric Brown anxiously wait for Rocco Greco at the Indianapolis International Airport on Feb. 3. This was the place of the first meeting of Evelyn and her father.

Bottom photo: Gloria DeSmith Miller, Evelyn and Rocco Greco pose as a family. This is the first family photo taken that includes mother, father and child. After 54 years, Evelyn and her father Rocco have been reunited thanks to the Popcorn Festival of Clay County Web site.

Imagine never knowing who your father is or never meeting relatives from his side of the family. Then imagine discovering you have five brothers and sisters, and a large extended family after you are 54 years old.

When Gloria DeSmith Miller was 17 years old, she was dating a military man named Rocco Greco who was stationed at Selfridge Air National Guard Base in Michigan; a young relationship that would soon be ended when Greco was transferred to another base.

The couple kept in touch for a little while through letters.

In one letter, Miller told Greco that she found out she was pregnant with his child.

The baby was born Oct. 11, 1951.

Greco went to Korea. He tried to see his child when he came back, but Miller's parents didn't want him to be involved with the baby or Miller.

Evelyn Greco Brown grew up knowing that her biological father was somewhere in the world and always wondered who he was and what he was like.

Her mother married and had three children with Evelyn's stepfather.

"When I became an adult, probably about 19 or 20, I felt the need to find Rocco," said Evelyn.

But life goes on and she continued her life. She married Glen Brown in 1969 and had two children, Eric and Marc Brown.

In October 2000, Evelyn asked a friend, Lisa Webster, to post a message on www.genealogy.com.

The message described Evelyn's situation and all of the details that her mother could remember about Rocco Greco. It included where he was stationed, his age and where she thought he was now.

The message received a few leads, but nothing panned out.

Over the next couple of years, Evelyn became president of the Orville Redenbacher Popcorn Festival and has held the position for the four years of the festival's existence.

One of Rocco Greco's daughters was exploring the genealogy Web site when she came across the message posted by Evelyn's friend.

Deena learned her long lost sister's name from the message. She performed a search on the Internet and found Evelyn's name on the Popcorn Festival's Web site, all of her contact information and even a picture of her.

Deena informed her father of her discovery.

On Jan. 13, Rocco Greco called Evelyn at home. His phone call showed up as a private call.

Evelyn said she never answers private calls, but for some unknown reason, she did on this day.

Evelyn said the man asked, "Does the name Greco mean anything to you?"

She replied yes.

Greco then told her he was her father.

Evelyn thought someone was playing a joke on her.

It was no joke. After 54 years, her father was on the other end of the phone line.

He contacted Evelyn again within 48 hours and made plans to come meet her.

She was amazed, happy and shocked. After all, she never thought that the Popcorn Festival would help her meet her father.

Evelyn learned she has three sisters (Ana, Deena and Chelsea), two brothers (Stephen and Anthony) and a large extended family.

According to Evelyn, Greco has always told his other children that he had another little girl out there who might come looking for him.

"It means so much to me that throughout his lifetime, he did think of me. For all these years, I just thought he had totally forgotten about me." Coming from Sacramento, Calif., Rocco Greco, 73, arrived in Brazil on Feb. 3 to meet and spend a couple a days with his oldest child for the first time.

The reunion was a great one filled with bonding that will lead to fond memories.

"We bombarded him with tons of questions and he was willing to discuss everything," said Evelyn's husband, Glen. "I think for him to make the first call and fly out here shows the integrity and moral base that he has."

Evelyn suggests, "For anybody in a situation similar to mine, just don't give up."

This summer Evelyn will meet dozens of her relatives during a family reunion, but most important of all, she expects some of her new family members will come to the next Popcorn Festival.

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