• Two Jacksonville-area families share connection through lost military portrait

    By: Elizabeth Pace , Action News Jax

    Updated:

    When Joseph Hines and his mother, Tracy Hines, found a military portrait hidden in a binder at a local thrift store, they said knew they had something special. 

    It was a black-and-white military portrait of 2nd Lt. Richard C. Buerkle dated Jan. 21, 1957. Hines said they found it flipped backward in a black binder inside the store, They purchased it all for $2.

    The Hines reached out to Action News Jax about their discovery, hoping someone local might recognize Buerkle. 

    Action News Jax reporter Elizabeth Pace dug through public records, visited nearby homes and called different local families with possible connections. After two weeks, she found Buerkle's daughter, who lives locally with her mother, Dolly Buerkle, Richard Buerkle's wife. 

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    At a predetermined location, the Hines family met the Buerkle family. It was an emotional moment for each family. 

    "We're really, really, really glad you found it and you went somewhere where you could return it," Dolly Buerkle said to Joseph Hines. 

    Dolly said Richard just died this past May. They were packing up their home so she could move in with her daughter. She said this picture slipped through the cracks. She didn't see it again until the Hines family showed it on Action News Jax. 

    "It's great," Dolly said. "We've been putting some scrapbooks together, As we were sorting through stuff, we were throwing things in bins so I could make a scrapbook for each one of my kids. So this (picture) will be in there."

    "Memorable," Joseph said. "You never know how much you can impact somebody until you have those little opportunities to do it."

    Just when Dolly thought she lost her husband, she said a piece of him came home. 

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