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Woman looking for family after historic scrapbook found: 'This is somebody’s entire life'

Posted at 3:36 PM, Jan 22, 2020
and last updated 2020-01-22 19:31:07-05

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DENVER — History and one family’s story live inside dozens of yellowed pages that now sit on Cheryl Nowakowski’s coffee table.

“This is somebody’s entire life with someone else,” she said, describing the sizeable green scrapbook.

Nowakowski enjoys antiques, so she decided to purchase the old book at a shop in Georgetown 8 years ago. It was lost in a closet until recently when she found it and decided the family heirloom needed to be given to its rightful owners.

“Every single page is packed with history, and somebody put a lot of time and effort into this,” she said.

The book chronicles the life of Elsie Dean, a woman who grew up in Fort Collins in the early 1900s.

“Greeting cards, letters, programs, menus, theater tickets, newspaper articles,” Nowakowski described as she flipped through the pages of the book.

The scrapbook also includes love letters.

“From Pete del Rios, and I believe they were eventually married,” she said.

The scrapbook gives several clues on top of the names. Elsie Dean graduated from Fort Collins High School in 1928. She married Pete and became Elsie del Rios. Pete may have served in the military, spending time at Fort Lewis in Washington. The two also had a child, proven by congratulatory cards included in the book. Based on cards, that child’s name was Ray.

Nowakowski now wants that scrapbook to make it back to the Dean/del Rios family.

“Anyone that can help out with anything, I’d be happy to return it,” she said.

If you know anything that might help reunite the scrapbook with the family, please email reporter Jason Gruenauer at