Broomfield widow reunited with husband‘s ashes after losing vial at rec center

Although her rooms are filled with photos of her late husband, Yolanda Sears unknowingly lost a miniature image of him tied to a necklace that also carried a vial of his ashes.

Last week, she was reunited with the precious memento — inadvertently lost, and subsequently found — at Paul Derda Recreation Center.

On Feb. 8, a picture was released by the Broomfield recreation department on Twitter along with the message to help reunite her lost necklace with the owner. The circular pendant holds a photo of Frank Axel Sears — her husband of 46 years.

It was her daughter Cynthia who first saw the picture of the necklace on a local television newscast and called her mother to say the charm was on television.

“I said, ‘No, it‘s not. It‘s somebody else‘s. Mine is in my jacket,‘” Sears said. “I didn‘t even know it was lost. I started crying. I couldn‘t believe it.”

She later was told the necklace was found between the sliding glass doors that led to the outside of the Paul Derda Recreation Center. Sears said the necklace must have slipped out of her jacket pocket.

“I just could not believe it,” Sears said. “I wish I could find this person and give them a hug and just tell them thank you so much.”

A few charms were broken, but otherwise the necklace was fine, she said, which was surprising since it easily could have been smashed by people walking in and out.

“My Lord is with me,” she said. “Yes, he is taking care of me.”

Sears said the small vial of ashes is all she has left since the family spread most of her husband‘s ashes in Hawaii where he was stationed in the U.S. Navy before Vietnam.

He died three years ago at age 72 after battling Alzheimer‘s for the past seven years of his life.

Frank built his career with leadership roles at hospitals in Colorado, Texas and Illinois. It was at Southern Illinois Healthcare in Carbondale, Illinois, that he capped off his career as a senior vice president and chief information officer.

Yolanda Sears holds the necklace with her late husband‘s ashes that was lost at the Broomfield Recreation Center and later recovered. ()

Frank, who worked for 35 years in the health care systems, retired in 2009 to Pueblo.

“He was 65 when we noticed his illness,” Sears said. “I took care of him for seven years.”

After the diagnosis the couple moved to Thornton to live with Cynthia, their eldest child.

“I am so thankful for the publicity and to be able to just have it back,” she said.

It was second close call for the vial, which came uncorked and fell from Sears‘ neck while she was on a plane to Hawaii. Luckily, the ashes remained intact and the vial was found between the seat cushions. After that, her son glued the cork into place and repaired the necklace.

Sears, originally from Guatemala, met her husband in 1969 when the two were living in California.

They dated for six months before he proposed. It was a scene “out of the movie ‘An Officer and a Gentleman‘” she said. She was working as a manager at Mattel, Inc., when he came in wearing his uniform and holding a small box. He dropped to a knee and proposed in front of a room full of people.

“Not 10 minutes later I lost the ring because it was too loose,” Sears said.

Her own manager — and everyone else working — stopped and helped sort through boxes of package popcorn for four hours before finding the engagement ring.

Now those diamonds are set in Frank‘s wedding band, which Sears wears along with the ring he presented her on their 25th wedding anniversary.

Sears, who has been a Mormon for many years, said the couple got married in the Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints Temple in Salt Lake City seven years ago. Frank‘s mother had been a Latter Day Saint, but her son converted later in life.

Sears continues to be active in her faith and leads church youth activities.

While she misses Frank every day, she said, and is grateful for the time they had together and looks forward to reuniting with him in Heaven.

“Those memories are always with me because we were so happy,” she said.

Sears is grateful to Channel 7, which aired the segment, and the rec center. Without them, she said, she might never have seen her pendant again.

Recreation Director Clay Shuck said the rec staff was clearing out the lost-and-found items when someone spotted the necklace.

“We had some staff that brought it to our attention,” he said. “It seemed like something valuable to somebody.”

Typically, if lost items are not reclaimed, they are donated, but whenever something valuable is left behind at the center, it is usually turned over to the police department.

Instead, the rec department decided to partner with the city‘s communication team to get the word out and find the owner.

Sears came into the rec center Monday morning to pick up her memento and chat with Shuck, who called her “very sweet” and enjoyed learning the history behind the item.

“I was glad we were able to reconnect that necklace to her,” Shuck said. “It was obviously something sentimental.”