Hope and a bit of intuition brought together a father and daughter for the first time.
Town of Lancaster resident Linda Venditti met her father, B. Nicholas King, Sunday at McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas, Nev. Mrs. Venditti, who grew up as an adopted child in Chicago, said she never lost hope that she would find her father.
King, who had attempted to marry Mrs. Venditti's mother, said his faith was restored by a voice left a few days ago on his answering machine.
"It's a terrific feeling," King said in a telephone interview Monday night from Las Vegas, where Mrs. Venditti traveled last weekend for a five-day visit.
"I put a huge effort in. I just never gave up," Mrs. Venditti said from her father's Las Vegas home. "I just always felt in my bones that I would find him. And I felt in my heart and my soul that he would want me and he did . . . he said he did."
King, discharged from the Air Force in 1952, met Arlene Strobot at a dance in Chicago. A short romance followed, but King left for the West Coast.
"I was 20, she was 18, we were both Catholic," he recalled Monday night. A month later, King said he learned Miss Strobot was pregnant, and he returned to Chicago with the intention of getting married.
"I made arrangements to get married, but her father said, 'Don't bother,' " King recalled. Despite his hiring an attorney, his daughter was turned over to a Catholic adoption agency, and efforts to contact her were futile.
But last week, a message left on his answering machine restored his hope.
"If you're the Bishop King that lived in Chicago in 1952 and was in the Air Force and went with a girl named Arlene, please call me."
The voiced belonged to Phyllis Oblander, the best friend of Arlene, Mrs. Venditti's natural mother. The call broke the vow of secrecy Mrs. Oblander had kept for more than 30 years. It was a shot in the dark, based on a hunch Mrs. Venditti had in a library.
Linda Venditti, 37, is married to Frank C. Venditti, a United Parcel Service employee. She had been trying to find her natural parents since she was 21 years old.
She was visiting her adoptive parents in Chicago with the first of her four children, when she finally saw her adoption papers and traced them to her natural mother's family.
While her natural mother, Arlene Pierce, did not want to see her, other members of the family helped her find her father after Ms. Pierce died.
Wendy Featherman, Mrs. Venditti's half sister, wrote to Mrs. Oblander during the recent holiday season, asking her to break her promise never to talk about Mrs. Venditti's father.
Through military records, Mrs. Venditti learned her father's name was B. Nicholas King. (The B. stands for Bishop.)
A trip to the library to look through out-of-state telephone books earlier this month bore results. When Mrs. Venditti had the Las Vegas directory in her hands, something happened.
"I had no idea then -- nothing but a gut feeling," she said. "Something came over me right there in the library that night."
Mrs. Oblander, who lives in California, made the telephone call that finally brought father and daughter together. She was able to identify King's voice and called Mrs. Venditti immediately.
"I shook from head to toe. . . . I had prayed for this for 10 years -- all my novenas, all my prayers. It all worked," Mrs. Venditti said.
"It's a happy ending," said King, 57, who has five other children and, now, 11 grandchildren.