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Trail family thrilled to have brother’s wallet back after 68 years

Most unusual is the near-new condition of the wallet

It might have taken 68 years to land, even eight years past his time here on Earth, but David Flanagan’s final prank was quite a doozy.

Full of humour and a sunny disposition in life, sister Beverly DeRosa shares that he must be laughing about it in heaven.

Rewind to a month ago when Beverly was relaxing in her Trail home and scrolling through Facebook posts on her iPad when a certain photo caught her eye. Posted on Rossland Buy and Sell was an old black and white photo dating back to the 1950s, with a message asking if anyone recognized the person, David Flanagan, in this picture.

“That’s my brother,” Beverly exclaimed to herself, referring to her deceased older sibling David Flanagan. Incidentally, David was still a teenager when he moved away from Rossland well over 60 years ago, and passed away in his adopted city of Victoria, B.C., in March 2015.

What happened, is one year previous a local utility worker, Evan Rothwell, was on the job across the street from the Rossland school searching for a gas riser that the crew was tasked to abandon (permanently take out of service).

As the story goes, near a pile of sticks, burnt wood, and other junk, Evan was moving the grass with his boot, looking for the riser said to be laying flat, when he spotted something poking out of the ground.

“This thing just kind of presented itself there in the dirt, we couldn’t believe our eyes,” Evan said.

Curious, Evan picked it up to have a look. Lo and behold inside a brown leather wallet were school ID cards of David Flanagan circa 1953-1955, his TB negative card, a scout’s pledge, and several black and white photos of people and even the family dog. No, there wasn’t any money. But the family jokes that was so very David.

Most unusual is the condition of the wallet and the contents within. The brown leather remains supple, almost new, and the photos and cards well preserved, not even dog-eared.

Realizing this was more a keepsake as there were no bank cards or present-day identification in it, Evan brought his find back to the shop.

The wallet was placed on a tool box the workers dub the “cabinet of curiosities,” which is filled with interesting finds from the job like old bottles and toys. That afternoon Evan went onto Facebook and searched for David Flanagan, but didn’t immediately find anyone fitting. So as work resumed, Evan put the wallet back on the tool box and life went on.

Then a month ago, a co-worker reminded Evan about the wallet and he thought to himself, “It would be good karma if I could figure out whose it was.”

This time he put David’s photo out on the Rossland Buy and Sell, where it was quickly spotted and recognized.

“It definitely made a lot of waves, and had a couple hundred likes a lot of shares, and comments,” Evan recalled. “Everyone wanted to see it get back to the rightful owner.”

The greatest and most unexpected hit, of course, was Beverly’s. She immediately tried to contact the page administrators, though it was the weekend, so she didn’t hear back right away.

A mutual friend ended up connecting Evan with the family and not long after, on his way home from work, he delivered the wallet to Beverly.

“It can be hard to find joy these days so I’m happy it got back to the family and brought some joy in people’s lives,” Evan told the Times.

Funnier yet, Evan mentioned he was in the wrong Rossland lot when he found the wallet; the riser he was searching for was later found across another street in a different yard.

Kismet, karma or a prank from heaven, the family is happy to have this treasure back.

Since the wallet was returned, there’s been a well of emotions for Beverly as she’s made calls to the family, including David’s widow in Victoria.

She and husband Gord have reminisced, photocopied the contents, and identified the five classmates in the school photos David so carefully kept in his wallet 68 or so years ago. They are planning on soon turning over the wallet to David’s wife and his four children in Victoria.

“We have a big family, so there were lots of tears, ” said Beverly.

David Flanagan was born on the family farm in Cutknife Saskatchewan on Dec. 21, 1938. The Flanagan family of 12, David was the seventh of 10 children, moved to Rossland in 1949. Active in sports and talented in music, David won a music scholarship to Gonzaga University in Spokane where in the late fifties, he met and sang with members of the Chad Mitchell Trio.

In 1959 he moved to Victoria to attend college, then dedicated 35 years to teaching the three R’s (reading, writing and arithmetic) and sharing his salt-of-the-earth values with students. He married in 1962, and over the years he and wife Denise welcomed three boys and one girl.

He is lovingly remembered by his family, including many grandchildren, nieces, nephews, extended family members and friends.

“He will be remembered for his sense of humour, his guitar playing, yodeling, family reunions … But his greatest love was in sharing Bible truths with others,” the family shares in his obituary. “Dave was a very humble man and felt as did Nehemiah, ‘So remember me favorably, oh my God.’” (Neh. 13:31)

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Sheri Regnier

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