About 25 years before she died, Geri Schultz got her picture taken with her husband, Clem.
The photo, which Clem Schultz said was taken for a church directory, sat on a shelf in the couple’s Fairdale home in north-central Illinois, near their bedroom window.
“That was one of the last things I saw before that tornado touched down,” the 84-year-old said Monday, just days after his wife was killed and he emerged bruised and battered from the rubble of their home.
The massive tornado tore through Fairdale on Thursday night, killing Geri Schultz, 67, and one of her best friends, 69-year-old Jacklyn Klosa.
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Clem Schultz and his daughter, Sue Frazier, said Monday that they aren’t sure how many family photos survived the storm.
“There’s such a stack of rubble to go through,” she said.
But at 3 a.m. Monday, Frazier checked her Facebook and saw Geri Schultz and her dad smiling at her in that 25-year-old photo.
“Part of tornado debris,” a woman named Alyssa Murray wrote above the photo. “Please pass along and let me know if you know who these people are!”
“That’s my dad and Geri,” Frazier wrote after it was posted to the “Found Items from the Fairdale Illinois Tornado” page. “Unbelievable.”
Murray wrote that the photo had been found, intact and apparently none the worse for wear, in the town of Harvard, roughly 35 miles northeast of their home.
“I’m amazed,” Frazier said Monday. “I don’t know how that happened. How does that happen?”
Clem Schultz called it an “incongruity” of the storm and its tornado, which authorities said measured a half-mile wide and traveled 15 to 20 miles on the ground.
The family and volunteers will spend the coming days trying to “beat the rain” and salvaging anything they could from the ruined home, she said.
Frazier said that she was heartened by the photo surviving, but that a million other priorities must be taken care of first.
“It’s amazing and it blows us away,” she said, adding that she will collect it when time allows. “I know it’s there. I know it’s safe.”
Other items have popped up on Facebook that are believed to have been scattered by the storm. They include a child’s leg brace adorned with a Chicago Bears logo, a wedding photo and the bottom of a flowerpot with a last name inscribed on it.
One of Geri Schultz’s children, Tony Poden, also expressed gratitude that the photo was found and will be returned. But Poden said little time exists to savor this minor miracle.
“There isn’t a whole lot that’s helping me right now,” Poden said. “We’re just trying to salvage any piece of anything that we can.”