State workers trying to find owner of lost pocket watch

State workers trying to find owner of lost pocket watch

PORTLAND, Ore. -- You may not normally think of state workers as sentimental softies, but a discovery last fall in a barrel of knives convinced some workers in Salem they needed to go the extra mile to reunite a man and his watch.

Every day, Transportation Security Administration workers at Portland International Airport confiscate knives and other things that aren't allowed on airline flights. All those things are then sent to Oregon's Surplus Property division.

Workers there sort through the items. The ones with value are then put for sale on eBay, or in the state's general store.

But last November, they found something else: a pocket watch with a family photograph inside. And they decided this was no ordinary piece, and it didn't deserve ordinary treatment.

"They picked it up, popped it, took a look, saw the picture inside, and decided 'we can't sell this'," said Darren Kennedy, a public service rep for the State of Oregon.

The picture shows a man, possibly a grandfather, with two young blonde children.

"We had to try to find the owner somehow," said Kennedy.

They posted the information on Facebook, and waited for people to eventually share it with the owner. That didn't happen.

"A lot of people said 'Wow, isn't that a cool kinda thing,' but nobody really gave us any solid leads as to who the owner might be," Kennedy remembers.

The pocket watch was put in a safe place, and it fell by the wayside. But then someone recently brought it back up on Facebook.

"We had a fan comment that maybe we could try some other avenues to try to find out who the rightful owner is," said Kennedy. "So that's when I got the idea of possibly contacting KATU."

It was either that, or put the watch up for sale, and risk costing the rightful owner a valuable memory. And once they saw the picture, their minds were made up.

"We couldn't do it. Couldn't do it," Kennedy said. "We could have easily taken the picture, thrown it away, and sold it online or something like that. But we felt it was sentimental, and we needed to find out who the owner is."

If you recognize the people in the picture, you can email Darren at: darren.kennedy@das.state.or.us