Michele Grgas Thomas The Triplicate

After disappearing four weeks ago, a lion statue, one of a pair guarding Judy Stilwell's front yard, has been returned.

A unidentified man pulled up to Stilwell's home at the corner of 5th and Wendell in Crescent City on Sunday afternoon and used the lift on his pickup to lower the concrete lion onto the lawn. He did not want to have his photo taken and he did not accept the reward that was offered.

Stilwell woke up at 6 a.m. one morning right before the Fourth of July and noticed her lion was missing.

"It looked so empty," she said, referring to the front walkway to her home.

Stilwell speculates the lion was stolen in the middle of the night before.

"I called the police and then I put an ad in the Triplicate," she said.

The ad generated several leads including a caller who said she saw the lion in Cave Junction. Stilwell drove to the Illinois Valley but did not locate the lion. She got other tips, but none panned out.

"A lot of people stopped by to say they were sorry about the lion and they missed seeing it. Some offered to donate reward money."

Stilwell said one lady told her, "'We walk by here every day and always say 'hello' to the lions."

The pair came from an old estate in Sacramento and a friend brought them to Stilwell and her late husband, Ron, a few years ago. The couple relocated here from San Francisco in 1973, and owned and operated the Oasis Lounge for over 30 years.

Judy Stilwell was ecstatic when her lion came home.

"The man who brought it back was watching the ad in the paper. He said he felt sorry for me having to spend money on ads. He apparently tried to convince whoever took the lion to return it."

Describing the man who reunited her with the lion, she said,"He was just a working-class guy. The kind you see all the time. His integrity took over. The people that had the lion said that if he brought it back I would think he stole it. But this is Crescent City. This guy had integrity. It's amazing."

"This is such a nice small town, she continued. "I can't tell you how many people saw that ad. I didn't realize how many people cared about the lions. The people here, they are just special."

Stilwell has moved both lions closer to her front porch where they are now chained in place.