Robert Lee -- the Wal-Mart greeter, not the general -- was loyal to his job.
Once, he showed up at the Hurst Wal-Mart even though he'd been in a car wreck. He drove his car, which was later declared totaled, to the Precinct Line Road store because he didn't want to miss work. A worried store manager sent him home.
Bob, a stoop-shouldered man with an award-winning personality, was everybody's favorite. That's why his wife, Nancy, couldn't understand the treatment she received from the corporation for which her husband had worked for 16 years.
Robert Lee died April 7 at age 84. His wife was executor of his will. She wrapped everything up, except for one matter. She couldn't get his final paycheck from the store.
She says she went to the store three times over a month. No one could help her. She says she called First Data, the company that Wal-Mart uses to pay its thousands of employees. But she kept getting the brush-off there, too.
She was asked to send proof-of-death documents, and she did. She mailed a copy of his death certificate and the will. When she was asked to mail a copy of the requester's driver's license, she thought that meant her husband's license (which she had saved). But really, the company wanted her to prove that she was who she said she was. Nobody explained that to her.
"These people act like they're the police," she said. "It's been very frustrating. I've been in tears, and I shouldn't let it get to me that way."
She's on her own for the first time after 40 years of marriage to the retired business executive, who enjoyed his second career as a greeter. Bob Lee first worked at the Southlake store, and when it closed, he moved to the Hurst store.
To Nancy Lee, that final paycheck, expected to be about $350, became about something more than the money. It was the treatment. The attitude. A letter from First Data left her angry. "Curt," is how she describes it.
"Please be aware that by not responding ... the account is accruing monthly fees that are taking away from the current balance," the letter said.
"That just did it for me right there," she said.
She contacted The Watchdog. I got in touch with Wal-Mart and First Data.
A couple of days later, the Hurst store manager arrived at her home, full of apologies and assistance. Richard Edwards helped the widow collect the final bits of paperwork needed to release the paycheck. He also brought an unexpected makeup gift.
The Wal-Mart manager gave Lee $500 in cash. Quite a surprise. When she told me about this afterward, she was laughing. Good to hear that laughter.
Edwards said he gave Lee the extra money because "I put myself in that position. Sam taught us to do what you thought was right to exceed expectations."
Sam, as in the late Sam Walton?
"Sam Walton actually hired me," the store manager said.
Walton opened the first Wal-Mart store 50 years ago in Rogers, Ark.
He and Edwards met at a company gathering, and Walton took an interest in him. Edwards joined the company in 1989 and has been a store manager ever since.
Wal-Mart company spokeswoman Dianna Gee said that a mistake was made but that "we're just glad we got a second chance to make it right. We can certainly understand Mrs. Lee's frustration, especially considering the circumstances.
"Her husband meant so much to so many of our associates and customers. We appreciate the opportunity to hopefully show her how much we really care."
The day First Data received a copy of Nancy Lee's driver's license, provided by the store manager, a check was sent to her for $334 by overnight mail.
Coming Sunday: AT&T tries to force some DSL Internet customers to upgrade to U-verse.
The Watchdog column appears Fridays and Sundays.
Dave Lieber, 817-390-7043