July 10 (UPI) -- An 89-year-old Illinois woman had an unexpected reunion when her stolen wallet was returned to her 75 years later.
Pastor Seth Baltzell said a plumber working on a project to convert the former Centralia High School building in Centralia to a church discovered a stash of 15 wallets in the wall of a girls' bathroom.
The wallets had been stripped of cash, but still contained school IDs that identified their owners as students from the mid-1940s.
"We've been working on this building for six months. I've been kind of waiting for that really cool thing that nobody's seen in the last 75 or 100 years to pop out," Baltzell told CNN.
The pastor posted photos of the wallets to Facebook along with the names from some of the IDs in hopes they would be recognized by relatives.
"Most likely, the person that's owned the wallet is either at the end of their lifespan or no longer living," Baltzell said. "My best chance was to reconnect with one of their relatives."
Baltzell was surprised, however, when KSDK-TV told him one of the owners, Betty Sissom, 89, is still living in the St. Louis area.
Sissom said it was shocking to be reunited with the tattered red wallet.
"I can't imagine somebody stole all those wallets and put them behind the toilet in a space I didn't even know was there," Sissom said.
She said the wallet contained one particularly sentimental item: A photo of her brother, who has since died, while he was serving in World War II.
"I was just so glad to get that, because I don't have a picture of him," Sissom said.