EAST TAWAS – Deann Walters discovered something pretty unusual under her spare room bed in her house just two years ago.
After a bit of investigating, she discovered a Henry 45 Colt gun plated in 24 karat gold and jewels engraved with scenes of Iosco County on both sides of the gun inside a leather case. She remembered that the gun belonged to her late husband, Duane Walters, who purchased the gun from Brian Nesby at Rocky Mt. Firearms in Fort Collins, Colo. in 2006 according to historical society records. Daughter Tracy Stevelinck said she remembers the gun being delivered to the house.
“You remember dad buying it?” inquired daughter Lisa Schmidt.
“Yes, when it got delivered it was like, ‘Oh look what we just got,’ so we would open it up and go ‘Oh my gosh, we’d all handle it and look at it,’” said Stevelinck.
However, Schmidt said she doesn’t recall ever seeing the gun. Iosco County Historical Society Vice President James Miner inquired how long the sisters believed the gun resided under the bed in the spare room.
“Under the guest bed? I have no idea,” said Schmidt. “I never knew anything about it.”
It seems as though the gun was a surprise for many. After discovering it under the bed, Walters decided to give Iosco County Historical Society President Sandy Oesterling a call, in hopes of donating the gun to the museum. Walters suggested that Oesterling’s husband, Bob Oesterling, make a case for the gun to be displayed in the museum.
“I’d be more than happy to do that,” said Bob. “I’m kinda busy, so when I get time I’ll make it.”
Every time Walters saw Bob she inquired about the status of the case.
After being asked about it every few times they saw one another, Bob began work on the case with Elwood Sheffer, who designed and created the finished compartment displayed at the museum with reds, blues and yellows covering it, as well as, Walters written across the front. The leather case for the gun is displayed in the top compartment above the gun in the display case.
“He did a wonderful wonderful job,” said Walters.
Photos of the gun rest underneath the gun showing every scene and piece of the gun. Photographs were taken by Tawas City resident photographer Tiffany Richards. Both sides of the gun are engraved which gave Bob the idea to hire Richards to take photos, so guests could see the whole gun at the display in the museum. The stained glass was done by Tawas City resident Jeannie Lutes. The Walters family donated all the materials and the gun to the people of Iosco County.
“It’s one of a kind,” said Bob.
Duane passed away six years ago on June 8. He was the co-owner of Tawas Do-It-Best Hardware in Tawas City for 43 years and co-owner of Oscoda Do-It-Best Hardware for 12 years. He served the Tawas Area school board for 16 years, with four years as president. He also served as the former director of Tawas Area Chamber of Commerce. He took public office on May 14, 2007 as a Tawas City Council member and on Jan. 1, 2008, he was elected mayor of Tawas City.
The Oesterlings along with the Iosco County Historical Society board members said they appreciate Lutes, Sheffer, Dick Frederick, John Richards, Tiffany and Bob for their help to make the Walters’ rifle display a reality.
The Iosco County Historical Society is open every Friday and Saturday at 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. The Iosco County Historical Society is located at 405 West Bay St. East Tawas.
For more information about the museum, visit www.ioscomuseum.net or call 362-8911.