Ipswich: Step-father’s hunt for long-lost American son

EIGHT months ago Rudi Meijer’s world fell apart when wife Sylvia died after a long battle with illness.

But compounding the 53-year-old’s grief is the knowledge that somewhere in the world, his wife’s only child is unaware of the fate that has befallen his mother.

Mr Meijer, a carpenter, has faced an agonising search, desperate for word of Sylvia’s son Ricky Gonzalez.

Mr Gonzalez grew up in Ipswich, attending Rosehill Primary School and Northgate High School.

When his American father Mario was stationed at RAF Bentwaters, the family moved to Ipswich. But after a few years the marriage between Sylvia and Mario collapsed.

In 1994 Sylvia met Mr Meijer at The Plough pub in Ipswich. Two years later, with 23-year-old Ricky at their side, the couple got married in Las Vegas.

At the time Ricky had moved back to the United States and was stationed at a US naval base in Death Valley.

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The last Sylvia heard from her son was shortly after the 9/11 attacks in 2001, when he was stationed at a naval base in Rhode Island.

Mr Meijer, of Britannia Road, Ipswich said he is “beside himself” and desperate to trace Ricky, who is now about 37 years old.

He told the Evening Star he has contacted the US Navy, Red Cross and other official channels but so far his search has got him nowhere.

“I am no closer to knowing where he is,” he said. “I don’t know if he is dead or alive.

“If he is out there somewhere he deserves to know what has happened to his mother.”

Sylvia used to work as a staff nurse at Ipswich Hospital after training at Anglesea Road Hospital, at the top of Berners Street, which is now a nursing home.

In 1998 she underwent a quadruple heart bypass.

“It gave me another 12 years with her,” Mr Meijer added. “But she suffered with ischemic heart disease, I think I buried my head in the sand.

“I didn’t want to believe it. She had been poorly a while, I cared for her for years.

“She was a wonderful woman, so caring, it is heartbreaking to think Ricky hadn’t seen her for so long.”

Mr Meijer urged any of Ricky’s friends who may have been in contact with him to let him know.

He added: “I am very anxious, I just want to let Ricky know.

“He is still a part of my family, my only link left to Sylvia.”

n If you have any information that may help Mr Meijer trace Ricky, please contact the Evening Star newsdesk on 01473 324788 or e-mail starnews@eveningstar.co.uk.

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