Mrs. Holmes needs a Sherlock in her life

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Tacoma resident seeks help finding handmade replica of U.S.S. Constitution 

In October 2016, Trish Holmes and her family had the very difficult job of cleaning out her mother’s house after having to help her transition to an assisted living facility. Among her mother’s belongings were two handmade ship replicas, one of which is currently on display at the Tacoma Working Maritime Museum while the other has disappeared without a trace – a detailed replica of the U.S.S. Constitution.

These are no ordinary ships, as it was Holmes’ brother, Steven Harold Wisher, who meticulously built them by hand as a way to alleviate the terrible pain he was suffering from Guillain-Barré syndrome, a rare neurological disorder in which the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks part of its peripheral nervous system. Her brother passed away at 54 years of age, leaving the ships behind as priceless heirlooms to his wife and children. 

Having no room in their home to store the delicate ships, Holmes had protective cases made for each and loaned one to the Maritime Museum and the other to the Copperline Apartments at Point Ruston. There, Holmes said that she met with Copperline’s then-manager Lee Cohen. “I took the ship in to him and let him know that it would be for display and that our family would contact him at a future date or for him to contact us and we’d come and get it,” Holmes told the Tacoma Weekly. 

This ship replica is on display at the Tacoma Working Maritime Museum. Its companion, the U.S.S. Constitution, is the one that’s missing. Credit: Trish Holmes

Time passed, and Holmes said that in 2018 she learned that the first developed phase of Pt. Ruston, which includes the Copperline Apartments, was being sold to developers. Copperline was then put under new management.

“With it being sold, I thought that I should get out there, but when I went to Copperline, Lee Cohen was gone and his office was cleaned out,” Holmes said. 

That’s when she started looking for the ship’s whereabouts and has been doing so ever since. Holmes expressed how valuable the ship is to her family. 

“It’s very meaningful to his wife and, for their children, it brings lots of memories of their dad. They fondly remember their dad putting these ships together, so they have great meaning to them. He was in and out of hospitals hundreds of times, and his only recreation and release from pain was to handcraft these ships. It took him about a year to do that particular ship. He was very gifted artistically and made it very detailed.”

Holmes wishes to make clear that she is not pointing the finger of blame at anyone. She is just following any leads she can get to find the ship, and hopes that sharing her story will yield results. A $100 reward is being offered for its return safely and intact, no questions asked. 

Anyone who may have information, please email this reporter, Matt Nagle, at matt@tacomaweekly.com or call (253) 922-5317. 

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