Reprinted from the Kenyon Client Newsletter June 2012
A wallet helps write the final chapter.
Kenyon Team Members who process the belongings of people caught up in a disaster, (known as personal effects or PE) always show great professionalism and sensitivity in handling what is often a painstaking process. Sometimes that process of returning property to its owner or their loved ones takes many months to complete. This story began more than 30 years ago but now, thanks to the diligence, determination and a little detective work from some of our Team Members, we are finally able to write the final chapter.
In August 2011, a team from Kenyon was deployed to a crash involving a First Air 737-200 at Nunavut in the Canadian Arctic. This is a small Inuit hamlet that is the jump off point for Arctic expeditions, very close to the North Pole, on the edge of the polar ice cap. The airfield is gravel, and most supplies arrive by ship, which only comes once a year. Otherwise they have to be flown in, which would explain why a can of soda costs $5 and you will have to pay $6 for a candy bar at the small local co-op store.
Once the search and recovery operation at the site was complete, everything was shipped to Kenyon’s Houston facility. Here, as we began the process of returning the personal effects to their loved ones, the team were somewhat perplexed by having a wallet with identification in it that did not belong to anyone on the flight manifest.
Not that this doesn’t sometimes happen; occasionally family members carry items with them from another member, but a whole wallet?
The wallet appeared to be very weathered, a different kind of damage than from a crash. We also reviewed the contents and everything was dated no later than 1973. Could this wallet have been at this remote location since the 1970s and we just happened to pick it up as a result of the crash? Or was a family member carrying an old family memento on the plane?
It was clear the wallet belonged to a Mr. Arthur Robinson. The name led us to a phone number for an address in Winnipeg, which turned out to be his daughter, Suzanne. I asked if her father had lost his wallet in Resolute Bay a long time ago and she told me this story:
Arthur Robinson worked for the Canadian Transportation Authority and was on a trip to Resolute Bay in the mid 1970s. He and three companions were in a Bombardier Snow-Cat when it fell off the side of a hill, rolling several times and landing upright in the deep snow. Her father had a broken back, but the others were in even worse shape. Bravely, he had managed to get the snow-cat started and drove it back to the military airfield to raise the alarm. All three were then airlifted to a hospital on Baffin Island. Apparently much of the contents of the snow-cat were ejected during the roll over including her father’s wallet, which lay on the ground in that exact spot undisturbed for thirty years.
Suzanne was more than a little surprised to hear from us and pleased that we had found her father’s wallet and were returning it to her. Arthur Robinson passed away in 2007, but his family now has an opportunity to tell his story once again with the weathered wallet, their memento from his extraordinary arctic adventure, more than thirty years ago.