Nassau antique unveils message, memories for Pacific Northwest family

Life & Health

NASSAU, N.Y. (NEWS10) — A Rensselaer County man has made a family on the other side of the country very happy, all because of his curiosity.

Fifteen years ago, Jerry Gerke, of Nassau, wanted an antique thermometer to hang on the wall of his old house. While searching on eBay, he found a wooden barometer that he thought would look nice in his home. 

As Jerry recalls, “So I buy this thing up for a hundred bucks or so, hang it on my wall and forget about it.”   

A few weeks ago, Jerry’s wife asked him to move the barometer, and when he took it down, he noticed a small brass plate on the back. 

“So, I’m reading the plaque and see the name Robert McEwen and it says this was a gift from Pacific Bell, the phone company,” Jerry says.

There it sat on his desk for a few days when Jerry got curious and searched the man’s name and company on Google. 

“Suddenly, I find his obituary and can’t believe what an impressive guy he was,” Jerry added. 

Jerry learned the man who once owned the barometer was a hero in World War II, was married 50 years and led an exemplary life. Now, Jerry felt the need to track down Robert McEwen’s family and get this item back to them, so he turned to Facebook and started messaging people.

Sure enough, on the other side of the country in the state of Washington, a woman responded and said, “Robert McEwan was my grandfather.” The two talked about his amazing life and Jerry, at his own expense, sent the barometer back to his family.

It turns out, when Robert died, the antique was accidentally sold in an estate sale. Now it is back where it belongs, with Robert’s family. 

As Kim Chabot, Robert’s granddaughter, puts it, “Just amazing. I can’t thank him enough. I wish we had more people like Jerry in the world.”

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