By Anna DeWine Bolton
FAIRBORN — A Fairborn man and his new hobby helped return a decades-lost high school ring to its home.
Dana Jones, who bought his first metal detector in August, recently found a ring while he was swiping in a Fairborn parking lot.
It turned out to be a Northridge High School class ring detailed with a purple stone, a polar bear emblem and a set of hands, engraved with the year 1989 and the initials W.H.S.
“I was on my last swipe, coming up with bottle caps, junk, and coins. I was really getting discouraged and the rain was starting to kick in,” Jones said.
Suddenly, Jones heard a signal. When he dug into the ground, he spotted the ring, just two inches from the surface.
“The timing was perfect,” Jones said.
It was Jones’s first real find.
“I wanted to bring the ring back. If something can find its way home, I want to do that for others,” he said.
Jones recalls a story of being broken down on the side of the road when he was 18. A man pulled over, fixed his car and started it. When Jones asked him how he could repay him, the man told him, in return, to do one kind thing for two strangers.
Jones took the ring to Northridge High School a few weeks ago, where administration staff looked through school records to try to locate the ring’s owner.
But no graduate from 1989 matched the ring’s initials. Disappointed, Jones flipped through composite photos, when his eye caught a photo of a graduate named Wendy Sue Hartman, matching the lettering on the ring.
Wendy Hartman, now Wendy Barrett, was at work when she got the message that her class ring might have been found. She immediately returned the call. Barrett described her lost ring in detail, perfectly matching the description of the one found.
The two chalked up the year difference to a typo.
Before she hung up, she said to Jones, “Can I do something for you in return?”
“I told her, ‘Do something kind for two strangers and we’ll call it even’,” Jones said.
Jones returned the ring to Barrett on Friday in the halls of Northridge High.
“I loved high school,” Barrett said. “We had so many memories in this building.”
Barrett said the ring could have been gone 20 years. She realized about ten years ago, when looking through her jewelry box, that she had misplaced it.
“I never thought I’d get it back,” she said. “It was out of the blue. That put a big smile on my face to let me know that there are still good people out there.”
Reach Anna DeWine Bolton at 937-502-4498.