Phoenix woman searching for owners of World War II belongings found in trunk

Elizabeth Dysinger is on a mission to find the family who these items may belong to.
Published: Dec. 7, 2022 at 8:31 PM MST
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PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -- Bags full of handwritten letters and photos dating back to World War II were found inside the trunk of a car. That discovery was made after the car was donated to a local nonprofit. Now a Valley woman is looking for the owners of the memorabilia.

The lady who found that bag full of items, with letters inside written in Polish, has a daughter-in-law who speaks the language. She was able to translate some of the letters to find out they were written during WWII.

Elizabeth Dysinger’s mother-in-law works and volunteers for Treasures for Teachers, where somebody donated a car to them. Inside the trunk was a pink bag containing memories dating back to 1913. “Most of them are wedding photos or holy communion photos,” Dysinger said. “I guess this is what a typical phone book would have looked like back then. There’s a couple of actual receipt books that have the 194 preprinted on it so it’s from the 1940s.”

Dysinger is on a mission to find the family who these items may belong to. “These are written to Anna Kowalczyk in Minneapolis, Minnesota and the years range from late 40s to the 70s,” she said.

The letters are postmarked from Poland. “The letter is basically from her niece and nephew asking for help after the war. Their home was bombed and burnt to the ground,” she explained.

It hits a little bit closer to home for Dysinger, who was born and raised in Poland. “So what she is saying (in the letter) is this would be a huge help for us if you can help us because it takes many months to be able to buy an article of clothing,” she explained.

Also in the bag was a newspaper article dated 1973. It says Minneapolis couple Joseph Kovalczyk, 87, and his wife Ann, 79, were killed in a head-on collision. Elizabeth believes that’s the Ann the letters were written to.

There is also a printout of an obituary for Julia Anna, who has the same last name. It shows she died in Payson at 94 years old in June 2020, and her parents were Joseph and Anna Kowalczyk. Julia was employed at Sperry Univac/Honeywell for over 30 years in Minnesota, New Mexico and Arizona. Julia spent many years in Arizona and lived in Congress, AZ. According to the obituary, she has six kids, 18 grandchildren and even great-grandchildren.

While Dysinger doesn’t know where family members could be in the world, she hopes someone will recognize these faces. “It’s a huge piece of history and to be able to hold photos of your loved ones and your family and letters they wrote during such a horrible time like the war. I think that would be so important to someone. It’s memories. It’s your family. It’s something that’s eternal,” she said.

She says they have tried to track down the person who donated the car. She says it was a 2005 Mercedes, but she hasn’t had any luck. If you have any information, contact reporter Holly Bock on Twitter or email newsdesk@azfamily.com.