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'Lone Ranger' watch finds its way home

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Clint Kueker of Rochester, Minn. has been collecting Lone Ranger memorbilia for a long time and met Clayton Moore in the mid-seventies and became friends.
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On the face of the watch are finely drawn portraits of the Lone Ranger and Tonto. On the back there is an engraving to Dave Howe from Clint Kueker.

The watch still keeps perfect time, and it brought back a flood of memories when it recently turned up in Kueker's mailbox at his southwest Rochester home.

"I think I bought it at a flea market or something," Kueker said of the watch. It was nothing special, just a plain pocket watch. "It's probably from the '50s," he said.

Years later though, Kueker, well-known in the circle of Lone Ranger experts and collectors, was corresponding with a fellow Lone Ranger fan named Dave Howe, a U.S. Navy cryptologist. A friendship was struck up, and between assignments in Virginia and Okinawa, Howe, his wife and two daughters came to Rochester to spend a few days with Kueker and his family.

As a token of their friendship, Kueker pulled out the old pocket watch, painted the Lone Ranger and Tonto on the face, etched his and Howe's names on the back and attached a leather strap on which he engraved "Hi Yo Silver."

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"I was always painting pictures or something," Kueker said.

Kueker and Howe corresponded for a few years, generally about Lone Ranger-related topics. "Then I learned he was killed in a car accident," Kueker said. This would have been the early '70s, and after that, Kueker lost touch with Howe's family. He forgot about the watch — after all, he has thousands of Lone Ranger items in his collection.

Fast forward 40 years. Early in March, a woman in Florida sent an e-mail to Kueker saying she had a watch engraved to a Dave Howe from Clint Kueker.

"I deleted her message without reading it the first time, because I don't know anybody by her name," Kueker said.

Luckily, the woman persisted and found Kueker's wife, Sharon, through Facebook. The woman said she had picked up the watch years ago at an auction, and in preparing for a recent move decided to get rid of some of the many items in her house. That's when she rediscovered the watch and started looking for Kueker. With Kueker located, she dropped the watch in the mail.

Now, Kueker, 78, can add it to his collection. Kueker, who retired after nearly 35 years with the Rochester Police Department, said he's been a fan of the Lone Ranger since listening to the radio shows as a boy. He eventually became friends with Clayton Moore, who starred as the Lone Ranger on television.

"He stood for America and so on," Kueker said of his hero. "Some of those old radio programs are like sermons."

Indeed, the Lone Ranger's creed included belief in "my creator, my country, my fellow man."

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He probably also would have believed in a 60-year-old watch that's still ticking.

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Clint Kueker of Rochester, Minn. did the portraits of the Lone Ranger and Tonto on this watch face and an engraving on the back in the early seventies for his friend Dave Howe. When Howe died his family sought out Kueker and returned the watch to him.

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