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Photo lost in 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 Gerldine in Thursday’s tornado — but today he got word that someone about 35 miles away found a photo the two had taken nearly 25 years ago.

coupleShultz was making funeral arraignments 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 he and his wife was in couple’s Fairdale bedroom.  Geri, along with her friend down street Jacklyn Klosa, was 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.

Saturday Bottlemy and a friend went for a walk on the 240 acres around his Harvard, Illinois 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 into 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.