Photo lost in Fairdale tornado found 35 miles away, returned to grieving widower

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KIRKLAND, Ill. -- As the cleanup continues, and the victims survey what they lost in last week's devastating tornadoes, one family is getting a little something back.

Clem Schultz lost his wife Geraldine in Thursday’s tornado, but on Monday, he got word that someone about 35 miles away found a photo the two had taken nearly 25 years ago.


Shultz was making funeral arrangements for his wife Monday morning when the photo was returned.

Exhausted, grieving and not sure what will happen next, Schultz  has his hands on something the tornado tried, but failed, to take away from him.

“It brings back a lot of memories,” he said. “It was one of the last things I saw before I rode that house down to the ground.”

The 25-year-old church photo of him and his wife was in the couple’s Fairdale bedroom. Geri along with her friend down street, Jacklyn Klosa, were killed when last Thursday’s  EF-4 tornado tore through their town.

Shultz and his family have Evan Bottlemy to thank for the photo’s return.

On Saturday, Bottlemy and a friend went for a walk on the 240 acres around his Harvard, Ill., home, a town about 35 miles northeast of Fairdale. He says they came across a lot of things that didn’t belong in the fields.

“There was just so many pieces of people’s houses and building insulation everywhere,” he said.

Mixed in with some of that insulation Bottlemy spotted the photo-soaking wet but in one piece.

“I looked at it and I thought this lady looking at me … it just felt like you needed to do something,” Bottlemy said. “It’s somebody's anniversary photo; somebody is going to want to find this.”

He flattened it out and asked his daughter how they could maybe get it back to the family. She posted it on a Facebook page set up to match tornado victims with lost treasures like this.  It didn’t take long for Schultz’s daughter to reply and it only took a couple of hours to get it back to him.

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1 Comment

  • Kat

    Please edit your piece before hitting the “publish” button! All the mistakes and grammatical errors make this really hard to read. It’s arrangements, not arraignments. And the tornado tried, not tired. Also, I’m pretty sure if you were to change “into” to “in” this sentence would be way less awkward sounding: “Mixed into with some of that insulation…”