(KTXL) — An Iowa woman has helped identify a man seen in old photos found in an RV and she is wondering how these found their way to Northern California.

“I just don’t know how those items got across the country,” Sherri Thomas told FOX40.com. “I was shocked.” 

Thomas became aware of the photos after FOX40.com published the story of a man who fell on hard times and lived in an RV that had the photos and other documents inside when he purchased it.

The man reached out to FOX40.com after selling the RV in an effort to help get the belongings back to their rightful owner.

Thomas got in touch with FOX40.com and shared more details about the man seen in the photos and named in the documents, and she said she is hoping to take possession of her ex-husband’s belongings.

Photo album, other documents found in an RV

Juan Garcia of Stockton lost two family members to COVID-19 and ended up unhoused during the pandemic.

He purchased a used for RV in Manteca for several hundred dollars and was surprised when he found the collection of images and documents that show a man from his childhood years into his career as a police officer.

“I hate for it to get lost, these are pretty old pictures,” Garcia said. “It looks like they mean something to somebody.” 

The photos show the man at different points in his life, including as a child, as a member of a bowling team and wearing a police uniform.

Among the documents are a police academy certificate from the Des Moines Police Department from 1951 and a newspaper clipping of the academy graduation.  

Left, a police portrait of Lewis Brundige with the Des Moines Police Department. Right, Brundige as a baby with his parents in a family portrait. Photos courtesy of Juan Garcia.

Thomas confirmed the man in the photos is Lewis Brundige, whom she was married to for five years beginning in 1975. 

Brundige was Thomas’ second husband and she had a different legal name at the time of their marriage.  

“He was a man to be respected,” Thomas said. “He was a good police officer, he was a good husband and a good father.”

Thomas also shared other images of Brundige, such as a photo of him as a rookie police officer in 1963.

Lewis Brundige (top row, 2nd from the right) is pictured here as a rookie with the Des Moines Police Department in 1963. Photo courtesy of Sherri Thomas.

More details discovered about the man in the photos

After FOX40.com published the story about the photos found in the RV, followers of FOX40’s sister station WHO13 in Des Moines, Iowa commented on Facebook with links and information about Brundige.

According to an online obituary, Brundige died at 64 years old in May 1998 after battling cancer for several years. Thomas said he died from stomach cancer and is buried at the Masonic Cemetery in Des Moines.

The Des Moines Police Department also caught word of the photos and documents and told FOX40.com that Brundige was hired in 1963 and was a U.S. Marine Corps veteran. Police said Brundige was promoted to Sergeant in 1970 and retired in 1989. 

Thomas said Brundige was a great bowler and that they were in a bowling league together. 

Brundige had two children from another relationship, a son and a daughter. His son, Lewis Brundige III, died at 56 years old in June 2019.

According to the son’s obituary, the older Brundige is survived by his daughter, Kim Miller, who Thomas does not have any contact with. 

Sherri Thomas shared these photos with most of them being from her and Brundige’s wedding in 1975. Photos courtesy of Sherri Thomas.

Ex-wife appreciates the man who cared for the photos

Thomas said that she admires Garcia for holding on to her ex-husband’s belongings as he searched for Brundige’s loved ones.

Although Thomas and Garcia have not spoken to each other, Thomas said she appreciated reading about Garcia’s quasi-connection to Brundige.

“He (Garcia) said he even felt a connection to Lew,” Thomas said about Garcia. “I felt a lot of respect for that man for reaching out and trying to find someone to take them and I’d love to have them because we have a lot of history together, Lew and I.” 

Photos in a portfolio found by Juan Garcia include black and white photos of a bowling and basketball team. Photos courtesy of Juan Garcia.

Even though Thomas is not in contact with Brundige’s daughter, she would like to take possession of the photos and documents.

“I do appreciate Mr. Garcia for taking care of that stuff, I really do. I really respect him for it,” Thomas said.   

Garcia said he’s humbled by her comments and wants to get in contact with her.

“I was really trying to do the right thing,” Garcia said in response to Thomas’ comments. “My father was in Vietnam and I lost all his pictures when I became homeless. I was lucky when I was able to save (Brundige’s photos).”

Garcia is also sadden to know that Brundige is no longer alive.

“I feel like I practically know him through the pictures with the bowling, the marines and being a police officer and raising up through the ranks,” Garcia said. “It tells a little tale about him.”