I wrote recently about a story I was fascinated by, in which a metal detectorist in Wisconsin had turned up a ring that had gone missing in 1976 at a school in Wisconsin, and the dedication with which he tracked down the original owner of the ring so that it could be returned to him. And now, less than a month later, a very similar story has occurred - also in the US, but in Florida this time. And with a ring lost a full 10 years later than the Wisconsin one; this one was from 1986.
Again, it's a metal detectorist who must be thanked for reuniting the ring with its owner. Shawn Rauch was detecting in just 8 feet of water, off Lido Key in Florida (in fact, he was hunting for a missing wedding ring), when he made the discovery. In his social media post he described it as his "first class ring", suggesting that these rings are quite sought after by detectorists. Perhaps that's because tracking down their owners is often made easier by the initials inside, and the rings tend to have dates in them too?
In any case, the ring Rauch found was from Lassiter High School in Marietta, Ga. and Rauch only had initials to go on when beginning his detective (rather than detector!) work. However, his research indicated that there were only 3 people with the same initials in that graduating year, which made the job somewhat easier.
Having narrowed the field further, and established that a man named Mark Murray was likely to be the owner, Rauch found himself thwarted by the fact that Murray had virtually no online presence and couldn't be located easily on social media. However, he didn't give up, and via friends of Mark's he eventually made telephone contact. Murray was, of course, surprised and delighted to have the class ring returned to him and he revealed that he had only had it a few weeks when he lost it.
Thirty-six years ago, I got that ring junior year of high school [and] I had [it] for what, two weeks when I lost it. I remember my father was so mad at me. He spent however much on it, and I lost it in two weeks. - Mark Murray
Rauch mailed the ring to Murray, who said he was pleased to have it back and confirmed that it still fits him.
Rauch went on to say that while it's cool to find items like class rings and watches, the best part of a detectorist's job is tracking down the original owner and handing the item over. He likes to see peoples' happy reactions and says he's going to carry on with his detecting hobby.
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