Junction City pawn shop owner returns savings bonds to homeless veteran

JUNCTION CITY, Kan. (KSNT) — A Junction City pawn shop owner spent a year of his life trying to track down a man who was down on his luck.

Chris Mathis recently decided to do some cleaning at his pawn shop, Jack and Dick’s, in Junction City. Over the years he, his father and grandfather before him, accumulated a stack of savings bonds, including a handful belonging to a man named Woodrow Wilson Jr.

With the help of a private investigator and WGN News in Chicago, Mathis was able to reach Wilson from more than 600 miles away.

“For real, she was telling me, but I thought she was trying to trick me,” Wilson said.

In the 1980’s, Wilson was stationed at Fort Riley and pawned the savings bonds for quick cash. Nearly 40 years later, the veteran is living on the streets of Chicago, a city filled with more homelessness than the shelters can handle.

“They’ve been crowded,” Wilson said. “They’ve been jam packed and you can’t get in them. You can’t get in.”

Mathis was able to find Wilson because he’d been arrested for loitering, not uncommon for a man who’s been homeless for the last three years.

“He could’ve kept it or cashed it in, but I’m obliged he is going to give it back to me, which means a lot because I don’t have nothing,” Wilson said. “It will really help me.”

The bonds are now worth $3,000. Wilson said this money will be more than enough to keep him off the streets this winter.

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