Woman Returns Man's Class Ring Lost in River


A Mississippi man was recently reunited with his lost “Class of ‘68” ring when a woman returned it to him 45 years later.

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Steve Earl Cantrell, 63, who graduated from Biloxi High in Mississippi, was excited when his parents bought him a 10-carat gold ring. One hot summer day in 1968, while swimming in the Biloxi River, the ring slipped out of his pocket and disappeared in the water. “I only owned the ring for a few months and didn’t want to lose it, so before I jumped off the cliff and into the river, I put it in the pocket of my cut-off shorts,” Cantrell told Yahoo! Shine. “It was a heavy ring so when it slipped out, I knew immediately.”

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Cantrell and his friends searched for the $40 ring in the 14-foot-deep water but came up empty-handed. “My parents understood but I was really bummed and all summer when we went to the river, we searched for it.”

Over the years, Cantrell thought about the ring, especially when he bumped into old classmates. “I would always tell them the story and say, ‘Man, I wish I still had mine, too.’”

Eventually, Cantrell forgot about it until a week ago when he received a phone call. “A friend of the family said that photos of my class ring were all over Facebook. I was skeptical until he told me that the initials ‘SEC’ were engraved on it. I broke out my old yearbook and saw that no one else in my class had my initials."

A few days later, Cantrell’s phone rang again. “It was a woman named Mary Kay Johnson from Gulfport,” said Cantrell. “She said her grandchildren found my ring on a sandbar of the river. I couldn’t believe it.”

On Wednesday, Cantrell and his wife of 32 years, Donna, made the 20-minute drive to Johnson’s catering business. “Mary was so excited to give me the ring and I got quite emotional about it,” he said. Donna told Yahoo! Shine, “I’d heard about the lost ring many times, and we figured we would never see it again. Mary could have done anything with the ring—sold it, kept it, not bothered to contact us. It’s a reminder that with all the bad in the world, people still do good things.”

Mary Kay Johnson could not be reached for comment. As for Cantrell, the experience has inspired him to reconnect with his old classmates. “I'm amazed at the power of social media," he said, "At my age, I’m not on Facebook but after this, I think I’ll join.” 

Lost class rings seem to have a way of popping up unexpectedly. In June, a Pennsylvania teenager with a metal detector found a 1962 class ring buried 8 inches below the grass in the back of Lemont Elementary School and returned it to its owner Donna Tesler, who had lost it 52 years prior while playing softball. In March, a Georgia man named Richard Hale was reunited with the class ring he lost in 1972 when it slipped off his hand as he was driving. Hale was devastated because his parents had bought him the ring during tough financial times. And in 2011, a New Jersey woman returned a class ring to an Arizona man named Horst Adler, who lost it in 1959. Adler had given the ring to his girlfriend and it somehow ended up in the possession of a stranger.

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