Peggy Dempsey, who enjoys genealogy, used her research skills to reunite a woman with her long-lost yearbook and family photos.
“I am thrilled,” said Paula Elsberry, the beneficiary of Peggy’s sleuthing. “I couldn’t believe it when she called me. She is an angel.”
Peggy, of Glenwood, Iowa, had driven with her husband to the Council Bluffs recycling center, where she noticed some photos in a trash bin.
“I told my husband they didn’t deserve to be in the trash,” she said. “They were too good.”
A 1964 yearbook from Grand Island Northwest High School had the name “Peak” written in it. A junior that year, she soon found, was Paula Peak.
Separate from the yearbook were family photos, including children Michael and Brandy, last name Echery. Using a genealogy web site, Peggy matched their names to their mother, Paula Elsberry, who lives in Castle Rock, Colo.
Paula told me by phone Wednesday that she grew up in Omaha and attended North High before her parents bought a business and moved to Grand Island. As an adult, Paula lived in Europe for a while and then New Mexico, and lost track of the yearbook and photos. Her mother, who had kept them, died about 10 years ago; her mother’s husband died two years ago.
Someone disposed of the photos and yearbook. But Peggy Dempsey, who quipped that she was a “Dumpster diver” that day at the recycling center, retrieved them, tracked down the owner and made a stranger very happy.