WADSWORTH -- An Air Force veteran made a unexpected discovery this week at a local antique mall.
Cindy Schleigh happened to stop in at the Medina Antique Mall on Tuesday while her son was playing a baseball game nearby. What she saw in a section that included some military items shocked her.
"It stopped me in my shoes because I was just so upset to see that for sale on a shelf," Cindy said of the item, which she photographed and raced home to learn more about.
Cindy had come upon the burial flag of a World War I veteran. It was neatly and properly folded and was in a triangular display case. The nameplate on the case read: Kirk M. Reid, U.S. Army Air Service, 1917-1918.
Schleigh turned to Facebook friends from her Air Force career for help in tracking down information and quickly learned that Reid was from Northeast Ohio and had died in 1991 at the age of 93.
She returned to the antique store Thursday and bought the flag for $79.98, and called a man in Hudson, Ohio, named Kirk M. Reid. It was the World War I veteran's son.
"We had lost track of it and then you came onto the scene," the younger Reid, now 86 years old himself, told Schleigh when the two arranged a meeting Friday for the flag to be returned to the Reid family.
"Something like this can only come from the Lord," Reid said, at the Wadsworth VFW, where Schleigh presented him with the lost family heirloom.
"Cindy is really, truly an angel. She went above and beyond the call of duty for somebody she didn't even know."
Reid says he and his wife Dot became separated from the flag when they downsized and had a house sale. Somehow it was removed from their home.
"I thought it was gone forever," Reid said.
How it ended up at the Medina Antique Mall is not clear, but it may have come in with a load of miscellaneous items which were recovered, possibly from a dumpster.
"This represents his life, his service," Schleigh said, of the elder Reid's flag. "It's not something that should be for sale because you can't put a price on that."
Kirk Reid said his father lived a full life and had a variety of careers. After returning from WW I, he earned a degree from Cornell, and married Olive Tuthill in 1925. For a time in the 1920's he was one of the top-ranked tennis players in the country.
"Dad played and won tournaments into his 80's," the younger Reid recalled. "He stayed very active. He even wrote poetry and a screenplay called Fishers of Men. He was awarded a patent and worked 43 years at Nela Park."
For his efforts in planting evergreens in Madison, Ohio, where Reid lived most of his life, he was honored as Ohio's Tree Farmer of the Year in 1966.
"But with Dad it was always family first," the younger Reid, himself a World War II veteran, said of his father.
"And now Dad is home," Schleigh said with tears in her eyes as she handed over the heirloom to once again hang in a place of honor in the Reid family home.