A Tennessee woman has been reunited with one of her most prized possessions – her wedding gown – three months after a tornado tore through her home, completely decimating it.
Athens resident Russell Repkie, 61, went out of his way to return the garment to 53-year-old Denise Ferguson after it had blown onto his property during the storm.
“He was definitely determined, that’s for sure,” Ferguson told reporters. “I’m just very thankful that he was willing to keep pushing to find the owner of the dress. If he hadn’t done that, he might have given up or given to Goodwill. I am thankful that he pushed to find me.”
On Nov. 30, Ferguson and her husband, Tim, were sleeping when a tornado ripped through McMinn County, she said. The couple was not injured, but they lost their home and all of their belongings, including Ferguson’s 18-year-old wedding dress.
The dress had been stored in the attic of the couple’s detached garage, which was destroyed in the storm. Ferguson figured her beloved dress was “gone,” she said.
“I loved the dress and I definitely didn’t want to get rid of it,” she said. “I was disappointed, but at least we were OK. I kind of forgot about it and moved on.”
More than 30 homes were taken out by the tornado.
Repkie and his wife were sifting through debris on the 26-acre property when they came across a gold box, he told ABC News.
Most of the debris – consisting of wood, tin and papers — came from miles away, Repkie told WTVC. When Repkie spotted the box, it assumed it was “probably just some more tin off somebody’s roof.”
“You can imagine, on almost 26 acres, of how much debris I had all over my property,” Repkie told ABC News. “We were cleaning up and that’s when we spotted it. It was in a golden box and the sun was shining over it. I went over and picked it up and said, ‘There’s something in there.’ She [my wife] opened one end and said, ‘That’s a wedding dress.'”
Repkie then posted a photo of the dress into a Facebook group containing other local tornado victims. Ferguson eventually saw the post and provided a picture of her July 24, 199 wedding to prove she was the rightful owner of the dress.
Repkie returned the dress to her in person two days later.
The Repkies and Fergusons live near each other, but they had never met until Saturday.
“We’re just happy we can give [it] back,” Repkie said. “Something like that, it’s sentimental. You can’t put a price on it.”
(H/T: ABC News)
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