Historical suitcase found in Sun City building returned to late owner's son

PHOENIX (KSAZ) -- A suitcase dating back several decades has been returned to its rightful owner on Thursday, all thanks to genealogy and a lot of hard work done by members of a family history center in Phoenix.

"So, we said, 'let's see if we can find out who owns this thing,'" said Family History Center Director Gene Carruth. "Where did it come from? Who owned the suitcase?"

It all began two years ago, when a woman by the name of Mary Li found the suitcase. The suitcase was going to be thrown out, when it was found in a building in Sun City that was being demolished. Inside the suitcase held family photos, wedding photos, a diploma, and a report card dating back to 1924.

"The suitcase I recognize," said Harry Lewis, whose mother owned the suitcase. "It was in her closet, along with the other stuff."

After doing some research, the group discovered it once belonged to a woman by the name of Elizabeth Mason. Lewis claimed the family treasure Thursday.

"We had moved her four times while she was here, so in the process of moving, things got thrown out. I don't know how or where this came from," said Lewis.

The group found Lewis, after learning that Mason passed away in 2012 at the age of 93. They tracked Lewis down to give him his late mothers suitcase, and Lewis is happy they did.

"It's fantastic to look through and see all of these pictures," said Lewis. "A lot of the pictures I've seen before, but there's many that I haven't seen. It will be fun to go through it all."

Meanwhile, Carruth promised the group who was working on the project that if they found the family of the suitcase's owner, he'd owe them a steak dinner.

Needless to say, a dinner on Carruth is coming.