Lost family heirloom returns home 40 years later

Leo Farley Sr. died in 1978, at age 23, in a car accident. The Buffalo native had a wife a five children, but left be...

Posted: Jan 6, 2018 8:29 AM
Updated: Jan 6, 2018 8:29 AM

Leo Farley Sr. died in 1978, at age 23, in a car accident. The Buffalo native had a wife a five children, but left behind little else when he passed away. His children ranged from eight months to six years old when dad died and they've spent most of their lives with little to remember him by other than a few photos floating around.

That is, until Leo Farley Jr. got an unexpected message from a total stranger living in Arizona.

Andrew Zukewycz was cleaning his .22 Remington rifle on Saturday when he noticed, for the first time, a name engraved on the stock. A little odd, since the rifle had been in his family for decades.

Andrew's father gave him the rifle when he was 7 years old and Andrew planned to do the same for his son when he got old enough.

The name on the stock? Leo Farley.

He found Farley Jr. on Facebook and sent him a message. Hoping to find out an interesting backstory for his family gun, Zukewycz quickly realized he was holding on to something much more important.

"[Dad] died fairly young so he didn't have a lot of possessions or a lot of things," explained Farley Jr. "And we were so young the memories we do have are scarce."

The rifle was one of the few things left that could connect Leo to the father he lost when he was only 4 years old.

"How could I not give him the gun? It's not my dad's signature," Zukewycz said.

Zukewycz was born and raised in Arizona, but his father used to live in Buffalo. It was then, in the 1970s, when he bought the gun.

Back then, times were tough for Farley Sr., a young father of five. His children said sometimes he would have to pawn his property off to help provide for the family.

40 years later, with the help of a complete stranger thousands of miles away, this WNY family was reunited with something more valuable than words could describe.

"It's crazy that all these years it was still around," Farley Jr. said.

On Thursday, Zukewycz dropped the gun off with Farley Jr. and his siblings after traveling all the way from Surprise, Arizona.

"It really hits home in the sense that I would want my kids to have something that was important to me if I passed away," Zukewycz said.

For Farley Jr. and his siblings, the rifle is something tangible they can hold and feel closer to the parent they lost so many years ago.

"Having this and being able to have a conversation with my dad, it just makes me feel so connected to him," Farley Jr. said. "I feel like I've always searched for something from my dad and now I have this. It's overwhelming even to hold something I know my dad held."

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 515208

Reported Deaths: 10290
CountyCasesDeaths
Harrison34981557
DeSoto33342432
Hinds32718643
Jackson24896391
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Lee16439245
Madison14949283
Jones14155248
Forrest13829260
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Holmes272589
Smith269952
Yalobusha244647
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Greene225149
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Lawrence220241
Perry214456
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Carroll175241
Jefferson Davis174043
Tunica163539
Benton153239
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Choctaw137027
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Humphreys132239
Franklin126430
Quitman107828
Wilkinson106139
Jefferson96934
Sharkey65321
Issaquena1957
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Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 847064

Reported Deaths: 16157
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson1163702006
Mobile743001381
Madison53394737
Shelby38395371
Baldwin38140589
Tuscaloosa36096642
Montgomery34535782
Lee25639264
Calhoun22620519
Morgan22503408
Etowah20043520
Marshall18812317
Houston17754425
St. Clair16928358
Limestone16178220
Cullman16113304
Elmore15927295
Lauderdale15042307
Talladega14234301
DeKalb13033270
Walker12119380
Blount10756193
Autauga10531157
Jackson10191195
Coffee9431192
Colbert9356210
Dale9035192
Tallapoosa7283202
Russell709665
Chilton7077170
Escambia6961144
Covington6956195
Franklin6355108
Chambers5791142
Marion5428130
Dallas5299210
Pike5124109
Clarke485586
Lawrence4841130
Winston4784110
Geneva4649136
Bibb435294
Barbour370080
Butler3445101
Marengo342793
Monroe338066
Randolph337367
Pickens334689
Fayette331385
Henry320866
Cherokee319563
Hale318589
Crenshaw261577
Washington256852
Cleburne255460
Lamar253355
Clay251669
Macon245465
Conecuh193262
Coosa185647
Lowndes178268
Wilcox178138
Bullock152545
Perry141840
Sumter139741
Greene130245
Choctaw93328
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