Lost and Found: Belvidere Farmer Reunites Tornado Victim with Wedding Dress


On a crisp December day comes a story right out of a now barren Belvidere field.

“We’re very close to the Illinois Tollway,” explained Roger Miller.

Miller is a farmer who made an incredible find, and it all goes back to the days immediately following April’s EF-4 tornado.

“Off of 800 acres that I farm, I had approximately eight pick-up loads of debris that I hauled off,” said Miller.

Among the debris he removed from the field was a wedding gown. 

“Well my reaction was ‘gosh this is a beautiful wedding dress’ it had sequence on it and everything and somebody’s going to probably wish they had that back.” Somebody like Rochelle resident Kelly Newman.

“And then it was gone,” said Newman as she described what happened the day of the tornado. “You look up and everything was just gone.”

She and her husband were left to pick up the pieces following the deadly storm. But thanks to a post on Facebook, Miller was able to reconnect Newman with at least one piece of her life. Miller’s granddaughter, Alissa Meyer posted the picture on Facebook.

“My son texted me he said ‘I think your dress is online’ and I said ‘what?’ and he said that it’s [on] the tornado page,” explained Newman. “So I went on there and sure enough, there [it] was and he had said ‘i think this is my mom’s, right?’ and it was!”

But Miller says he couldn’t hand it over in the condition he found it in. “My wife said, ‘gosh we should get that cleaned before we get it back to her,'” said Miller.

“When he showed me the dress, I really was unsure whether that could be cleaned and repaired the way that it was,” explained David Perez, owner of Neighborhood Cleaners. 

But after shipping it off, soiled and stained to an expert in New York, the result called for a meeting months in the making.

“It’s beautiful! Looks just like brand new,” exclaimed Newman as Perez revealed her freshly cleaned debate.

Smiles all around from a woman who got the present of a memory this holiday season while making a new one at the same time.

“It’s taken some time but now we’re all reunited,” said Newman.


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