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Thu, June 04

Honesty pays off<br>for IMAX theater usher

TUSAYAN — Mary Pat Reilly was in Flagstaff by the time she realized the camera she received on her 21st birthday was missing.

Special pictures of Reilly and her boyfriend at the Grand Canyon were on film in the Nikon 200 camera. So at 11 p.m. on a June night, the couple retraced their steps, trying to figure out where the camera had been left.

Lester Clitso, second from right, poses with the letter he received from Mary Pat Reilly. Pictured along with Clitso from left are co-workers Rose Miles-Smith, Sandra Schnerr and Nancy Haufle.

“We drove back and almost hit a deer,” said Reilly, the press secretary for Illinois Sen. Richard J. Durbin. “I remember making a phone call at a motel or hotel alongside the road. Then we went back toward a gas station. Nobody had seen the camera.”

Reilly made the trip home to Chicago without finding her camera. But thanks to an IMAX employee, chief usher Lester Clitso, she would eventually get it back.

“About a week later, I was still thinking about my camera and pictures,” she said. “Then I remembered the IMAX Theater. So I called and was just floored that they said ‘yes, we have it.’”

Clitso, who has worked 13 of his 14 years in Tusayan at IMAX, said he was just doing his job.

“I found the camera out in the patio area,” Clitso said. “We find a lot of wallets and return them to the booth. This was the first time I received a reward.”

Reilly was impressed with Clitso’s honesty and sent him a letter inviting him to tour the White House with her if he’s ever in Washington. She also sent along $60.

“She should be commended because she wrote,” said Sandra Schnerr, IMAX general manager. “Sometimes, wallets are turned in with a couple of hundred dollars in them and sometimes you don’t even get a thank-you.”

“I’m in awe because people are thankful, but often don’t take the time to do something like that,” sales and marketing manager Nancy Haufle added.

Reilly said the camera was a gift from her mother, but more important than the camera were the pictures.

“He (boyfriend) wanted to see that movie at the IMAX, so we went to the movie theater,” Reilly said. “I had a lot on my mind ... and I guess I left it at IMAX. I did not realize the camera was gone until we got to Flagstaff where I was having dinner with my brother.”

In the letter to Clitso, she said “thanks to your honesty, I have all the pictures from my trip. Now, I would like to give you something for demonstrating such rare character and morals.”

Reilly said she struggled with how much to give as a reward.

“I just didn’t know and I’m not sure if I gave him a substantial amount,” she said. “I’m being very sincere about that.”

For Clitso, one gets the feeling he’s thankful not just for the money, but for receiving a nice letter from a customer who appreciated his honesty on the job.

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