(FOX40.COM) — Weeks after an Iowa woman became aware of old photos of her ex-husband that were found in an RV in California, those pictures have made their way to her hands.
“It was like Lew reached from the grave and he wanted me to have these,” Sherri Thomas told FOX40.com in a phone interview.
Thomas’ plans for the photos include getting a new picture album and putting them inside behind plastic to preserve the longevity of the images.
Photos in the portfolio included a portrait of Thomas’ ex-husband Lewis Brundige in his Des Moines police uniform, a picture of him bowling and group photos of the late officer during his time with the Marines and Freemasons.
When Thomas held up the photos, she admitted many emotions went through her mind, but she also has questions about how the images ended up in RV across the country.
“I did get them and I got them put away, but I’m still baffled how they got there and what they were doing in that RV,” Thomas said. “He told me there was all kinds of tools in there.”
Thomas became aware of the photos after a previous FOX40.com report of a Stockton man who fell on hard times and lived in an RV that had the photos and other documents inside when he purchased it.
FOX40.com was contacted by the man, Juan Garcia, who wanted to give the items back to their rightful owner.
After the story was published, Thomas got in touch with FOX40.com and shared more details about Brundige, whom she was married to for five years beginning in 1975. She hoped to take possession of her ex-husband’s belongings.
The photos made their way to Thomas after she connected with Juan “Johnny” Garcia after a follow-up story was published on FOX40.com.
Photos, other documents found in an RV
Garcia discovered the photos in an RV he bought in Manteca as a place to live after losing a house when his mom and brother both died from COVID-19 months apart.
The trailer was purchased for $400 and Garcia was surprised when he found the collection of pictures and documents that showed a man at different points in his life.
Among the documents that were found inside are a police academy certificate from the Des Moines Police Department from 1951 and a newspaper clipping of the academy graduation.
“I hate for it to get lost, these are pretty old pictures,” Garcia said. “It looks like they mean something to somebody.”
Thomas confirmed the man in the photos is Brundige, who was her second husband. She added that she had a different legal name at the time of their marriage.
“The most important accomplishments of his life was all in that binder,” Thomas said. “If Johnny didn’t get it, it could’ve very well ended up in a dumpster. Thank God it ended up in Johnny’s hands and he worked so hard to get it where it needed to be.”
According to an online obituary, Brundige died at 64 years in May 1998 after battling stomach cancer. Thomas said he’s buried at the Masonic Cemetery in Des Moines.
Photos make their way Iowa
After Thomas and Garcia talked, the latter went to the post office to mail the photos to Iowa he needed help.
Garcia had $8, but the post office told him it was $15 to send the photos to Thomas. Instead of sending what Garcia needed, Thomas sent $50 to him through the mobile payment app Cash App.
Garcia was reluctant to take the $50 because it was more than what he needed and wasn’t seeking a reward. His only mission was to give the photos back to the proper hands.
“He said ‘The most important thing is get Lew back home to you,’” Thomas said. “And it was very important to me, but he’s home. I just keep wondering why was it just Lew’s stuff. There was nothing else in that binder, but the very most important accomplishments in Lew’s life.”
Thomas said she hasn’t heard from Garcia since receiving the photos, but she hopes that he gets out of his unhoused situation.
“I’ve been thinking about him and I hope that he gets on his feet,” Thomas said.