Kellie Terrebonne is a matchmaker of a different kind.
Her work isn’t about pairing up couples wanting to find love. Instead, her work is about reuniting people with their most treasured lost things. And that’s how she happened on to Donna Huntwork.
“I have this habit,” Terrebonne said. “I like to help people.”
That’s why she reads the “Lost and Found” ads in newspapers and on Craigslist. She finds happiness in matching up people who have lost things with people who have found things. It was an ad on Craigslist that caught her attention about a month ago.
“It said something about looking for a lost moonstone rock shaped like a heart,” Terrebonne said. “So I emailed the person and that’s when I found out the whole story.”
The rock belonged to Donna Huntwork’s son John. John’s body was recovered last August in Dyes Inlet near Tracyton. He went missing on July 27, 2013, and his family and friends think he accidentally drowned. John liked to walk the beach in the area off Elizabeth Avenue, near his home in Bremerton. One theory is that John was caught in an undertow causing his death.
His mother said John had a heart-shaped rock he’d always carry with him. Because his body was recovered without his pants, she put the ad on Craigslist hoping that his black pants will wash ashore and inside them, in the pocket, will be the moonstone rock which he loved so much.
“I know it’s a real long shot,” Donna said. “But I wanted to try.”
She thinks John kicked off his pants and shoes, trying to stay above the current before he drowned. She thinks the rock will most likely be in his pant’s pocket. She put out the call, hoping that beachcombers who are out at low tides will keep an eye out.
After hearing the story of the rock, Terrebonne said she had to go searching for it herself. She began charting low tides and has spend about 20 hours so far walking the beach around Dyes Inlet. The first time out she started near Bachmann’s View, and walked past the Manette Bridge to the Warren Avenue Bridge. The last time out she started near the Warren Avenue Bridge and slowly headed north.
“I may not find anything,” she said. “But I want to try to make at least one loop around the whole inlet.”
Part of the motivation, she said, is a strange connection she has with Donna.
“I’m a mother of two sons,” she said. “And I just can’t imagine losing one of them, like Donna lost her son. And when I read the part about the heart-shaped rock, I just knew I was meant to search for it.”
Terrebonne explained that a few years ago, her youngest son, Alaric, gave her a glass heart as a gift. Her other son, Aidan, is 14.
“I know that with all the currents and all the time that has past, it’s doubtful that I will find it,” Terrebonne said. “But knowing the whole story now, I’ve got to try.”
On her excursions, she often sees others walking the beaches or fishermen. She tells them what she’s doing, and tells them if they come across the pants, or the rock, or John’s cell phone that was never recovered, to take them to the Bremerton police.
“A couple of times, I’m sure I was on private beaches,” she said. “But nobody said anything to me, and if they do, I’ll just tell them what I’m doing and I think they’ll be okay with it.”
Donna can’t believe that Terrebonne is going to so much work to help her.
“Kellie is so nice and so sweet,” she said. “I think she understands because she’s a mother. I really appreciate what she’s doing.”
Donna said she’s just hoping to get anything of her son’s back; the pants, his phone, wallet, keys, and of course, the rock.
Terrebonne said if she isn’t able to find the stone, she plans to make a heart-shaped pendant for Donna. Terrebonne has a jewelry business called “Guilded Cat” and sells her work on Etsy. She also has a Facebook page, “The Guilded Cat.”
Terrebonne moved to Bremerton about six years ago. She was raised in Missouri and lived in Louisiana and Arkansas.
“Since I was about 12, I wanted to move here because of the mountains and the water,” she said. “It’s just so beautiful.”
She and her father and her children all relocated to Washington “in a caravan of vehicles,” she said.
“I’m Bohemian,” she said. “I like to travel. Maybe that’s why I can spend hours just walking and looking for this rock.”
The last time out she got as far as Carter Farms Road, just past Pat’s Pier. She began at Lent’s landing that day and the search took her about four hours.
For her, it’s all about closure.
“I know, and Donna knows, this rock won’t bring John back,” Terrebonne said. “But it’s a comforting thing. And it should be back in her hands.”