It all started with an online post from Chilliwack searching for anyone who might be missing some old photos with the name “Marks.”
Gina Robertson had posted on Dec. 5, after spreading out the photographs to dry on an outdoor picnic table near her home.
“Found in Chilliwack,” she wrote. “PM me if they are yours.”
She figured someone might recognize the military man, hunter, fisherman and athlete depicted in the glossy images.
Well it turned out it was Earl Marks, 86, in those photos, the former Regimental Sergeant Major, the chief warrant officer of CFB Chilliwack.
Marks was indeed sorely missing that batch of photographs since someone rifled his truck, stole his camera and an envelope of photos that sat next to the hunting camera. Those were the only hard copies in existence.
But the retired base chief does not own a computer and is not on Facebook.
So in the end, it was quite a surprise to get them back.
Those photos are irreplaceable, he figures.
It was his cul-de-sac neighbour, Jessica DeRuyter, who recognized the friendly Mr. Marks in one of the photos.
“We chat sometimes and he tells me stories,” DeRuyter said. “He had already shown me a number of photos. I recognized one of them.”
So she weighed in online.
“I think they might be my neighbour’s, his car was just broken into and got his camera and photos stolen. Let me check with him,” DeRuyter posted in response.
She zipped across the street, and showed him the photos and messages from the small screen on her phone.
Sure enough, it was him.
“Owner found!” Robertson wrote triumphantly.
Chilliwack readers were thrilled. It was less than a day after the request had been posted.
“That’s amazing,” said one person about the found pics. “Fantastic news. Yay!” posted another. “Go Chilliwack,” cheered another.
What makes the story so heart-warming is the role played by Marks’ neighbours. He never otherwise would have got his photographs back, in all likelihood, without the connective power of Facebook.
Marks was so pleased he bought chocolates and cards for both of the ladies who played a part in their return. It was a real reversal of the negative turn of events from the multiple thefts he suffered.
He went and picked the photos up. He dried them off and pressed them in a magazine.
“Most were not in bad shape. I put 37 years in the army and some went way back,” said Marks.
He retired in a comforable home in Chilliwack in 1988 after a distinguished career in the Canadian Armed Forces that took him all over the world from Nova Scotia to Africa, Europe and back to Chilliwack. As Base Chief Warrant Officer he worked for the Base Commander at CFB Chilliwack.
“Most people wouldn’t do this,” Marks said about the efforts made to return his photos. “I sure appreciate it.”