Portrait of champion feather bowler resurfaces mysteriously

Image 1 of 6

It was the emotional story of a champion whose portrait disappeared at the worst possible time during his short life.

The whereabouts of "Farmhouse Steve" Gosskie remained a mystery despite calls for its return. 

It's been two years since a heinous crime was committed at the Cadieux Cafe where proud feather bowlers compete for a unique honor. Every year the league christens a champion and that accomplishment is memorialized with a portrait in pastel meant to hang on the wall for time immemorial.

Then the unthinkable happened: the portrait of the league's most extraordinary member was pilfered. The crime was compounded because Gosskie was contemplating his own mortality - already battling cancer.

"I said, 'Steve, I have some bad news for you,'" said Erik Greer, president of the Cadieux Cafe Feather Bowling Club. "And Steve said, 'Do you know who you're talking to? I've been diagnosed with this terrible cancer. How could you have bad news for me.'"

Contrary to what you may think of men who roll wood over dirt hoping to touch a feather, these cats can be pretty tough, even willing to risk an international incident to recover the goods.

"I absolutely wanted to go over to Canada," Greer said. "And if I needed to meet somebody in a dark alley or some sort of crazy espionage-like scenario, I was going to take my chances with that."

As you may have guessed, Steve was a bit eccentric.

"We had never seen anybody quite like him," Greer said.

Despite his distinctive and decidedly untraditional style, Steve became beloved.

When FOX 2 first reported on Steve's predicament in January of 2014, his mutton chops and good humor were still intact.

"Where did I go," quipped Steve at the time.

But the cancer spread and by the time a replacement portrait was unveiled, Steve was very ill. Within a year, he had passed, the possessor of the original portrait still a mystery.

Several months later, there was a break in the case after ESPN the magazine wrote about Steve and the feather bowlers, an apparent witness posted a comment online. Greer sprang into action but never heard back.

Eventually, another tipster surfaced.

"The e-mail was very terse," Greer said. "Only about three or four lines, says, hey, I think I can get you that painting back."

Finally, miraculously, the feather bowlers got the portrait back last week Greer placed another call to the Gosskie household and this time Steve's mother answered. It was time for some good news.

"I said, mom, your son is home," Greer said. "And that's when it really hit me."

"In a way it almost seems like a joke," said Julie Gosskie. "In another way it seems like some kind of a miracle."

"I'm sure he's jumping up and down in heaven if he knows about it, because he wanted it back so bad, it meant so much to him."

The portrait will be unveiled when the feather bowlers kick off their season this fall. But Gosskie's legacy already was present - even when the portrait wasn't.

"He brought an absolute bond and he truly made us family," Greer said. "He's in every one of our hearts at all times."

The Tao of Steve, if you will, is so great that it extends to those who did him wrong at least that's the message his mom wants to deliver.

"Thanks for returning it," Julie said. "Because it meant so much to Steve and the club. Those are such great guys aren't they? Everyone's a winner."