Shoebox Discovery

Fran Riley Feature


CLINTON COUNTY, Iowa (KWQC) — It is a shoebox sensation. A photo Gwen Heil Costello discovered a few years ago in a closet.

The photo was taken when Gwen’s high school classmate Gary Sander was serving in Vietnam. The two attended Northeast Community in Goose Lake decades ago.

That shoebox discovery prompted Gwen to start painting two years ago. The photo of the lonely soldier with a letter in his hands was the first in a series of her paintings titled “Men In Service.”

The paintings of a Huey helicopter, patrol boats, infantry, and others scenes are Gwen’s way of saying thank you to the vets who went from innocence to adulthood in a hurry.

Some of the veterans are living in Clinton County. Gwen says the paintings are her way to tell their story. Thanking them for their service. Honoring them for the respect many did not receive when they returned home from Vietnam. Stories. Shoebox discoveries!

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