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Stolen George Washington Portrait Returned 43 Years Later

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A large cloth portrait of America's first president for several decades hung in the auditorium of George Washington Elementary School in Durant. In 1970, somebody broke into the school and stole it. A large cloth portrait of America's first president for several decades hung in the auditorium of George Washington Elementary School in Durant. In 1970, somebody broke into the school and stole it.
DURANT, Oklahoma -

The iconic symbol of an Oklahoma elementary school that for decades was lost, is now found and it's the talk of the town.   

A large cloth portrait of America's first president for several decades hung in the auditorium of George Washington Elementary School in Durant. In 1970, somebody broke into the school and stole it. 

The school closed in 2003, but last week, 1960 George Washington Elementary graduate James Simmons came forward. He says high school kids stole and tried to burn the George Washington tapestry.  He says he saved it, and hid it away for the past 43 years. 

Simmons says failing health is why he is revealing the secret. 

"I can remember walking through the doors of the old auditorium and those eyes on of George Washington would just follow you," he said. "As a little child you know that was pretty bizarre." 

Simmons passed the piece of art on to someone who gave it to retired law enforcement officer and fellow George Washington Elementary graduate Ken Ervin.  He says nobody's in any trouble, mostly because the statute of limitations on this sort of thing expired decades ago. 

Now the cloth portrait is hanging next to a portrait of Abraham Lincoln at Durant's Three Valley Museum.

Special thanks to the Durant Daily Democrat.

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