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Decades-old wallet found in Penticton, B.C. returned to owner’s family

Two construction workers separated by more than 60 years along Skaha Lake Road in Penticton, B.C., are now connected through a long-lost personal item.

Scott Walls, a pipelayer for Grizzly Excavating, was working in the area back in early March when something caught his eye buried in the roadway.

“We were putting in a sewer main and as we were excavating the hole we always watch for other utilities or conflicting things in the ground,” said Walls.

“When the operator was pulling the dirt back, I saw a red credit card — I didn’t know at the time that’s what it was — and it happened to be a leather wallet.”

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The wallet was almost perfectly preserved and stamped on it was the name Roger Desfosses. Inside the wallet was an Arthur A. Voice Construction credit card.

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Walls took to social media with the information and eventually connected with Defosses’s son, Danny, and widow Gisele Desfosses, who both live in the Edmonton area.

“It was neat,” said Walls. “We find a lot of things in the ground, but usually they’re glass bottles and plastic, but to find something leather and then have a name attached to it and then a credit card with the company he worked for, and the expiry date was 1964… that was super cool.”

Only a couple of days later, the Desfosses family drove out to Penticton from Alberta to meet Walls and get the wallet.

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Giselle along with her son, grandson and his wife, and three great-grandchildren all piled into a vehicle to make the trip.

“I had to go. I owed it to Scott, and I owed it to Roger, because he can’t speak for himself and that’s something that he would have done,” said Desfosses.

“When I heard about it, I said we’re going, that’s it, we’re going. Scott wanted to mail it but I didn’t want to take a chance because we lost it for 60 years already, I didn’t want to lose it in the mail for another 60, I won’t be around.”

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The pair had come to Penticton in the 1960s for civil construction work along the same stretch of road where Walls had recently been working.

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Giselle and Roger Defosses were only in the South Okanagan for a few months, which is likely when the wallet was lost.

“He was a hard worker and always made sure that he had finished the job,” said Defosses.

“This job wasn’t finished because he left his wallet there. So, I know I just had to go and get it.”

Giselle went on to say that she is very thankful for Walls’ act of kindness and the wallet brings back a lot of memories.

She told Global News that she remembered the wallet from 60 years ago and even the texture around it from before it was lost.

“It was a good time in our lives,” Giselle said.

“We were just starting our family. Danny, he was four years old, and Suzanne was two and our youngest son was born seven years later, and he is now gone.”

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The wallet had been sitting about three-and-a-half feet under Skaha Lake Road ever since.

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Walls believes him finding it was a way for Roger Desfosses to say hello.

“I thought it was in my best interest to see if I could get a hold of his family,” said Walls.

“To find his son and his wife still alive and for them to come out here, that was super neat. And I’m glad I was able to do that.”

Giselle Desfosses echoed the very same thought, adding that everything worked out “perfectly.”

“Unreal, you know that it was possible that everything connected at the right time. When I said we’re going, Matthew was off for five days and said, ‘I will drive you,’ and everything just fell into place,” said Desfosses.

“I’m sure Roger was guiding them all up there. He was an organizer, and he would get the job done. I just hope that we have a chance to get together again but we’ll see.”

Roger Desfosses died in 2020 at age 85. He and Giselle had known each other since Grade 1 and were married for 63 years.

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