A class ring lost to history 50 years ago has been recovered and returned to its rightful – and surprised – owner.

“I am still in disbelief,” Rumi Dodson said.

The story began with a swimming trip with high school friends in 1969 at Doe Valley Lake in Brandenburg, Kentucky.

Dodson, whose maiden name then was Hinzman, had recently received her senior class ring from a high school in Elizabethtown, Kentucky, and was wearing it on that fateful day at the lake.

In short order, she discovered that the ring was no longer on her finger.

Rumi and her classmates at Fort Knox High School began a panicked search for the lost ring – but to no avail.

Rumi, a child of a military family that moved a lot, said she had recently graduated from another high school but had attended Fort Knox for her junior year and part of her senior year.

She said she considers Fort Knox her alma mater and always regretted losing that ring because of her deep sentiments for the school.

But time marches on, and she soon married Rick Dodson, a military man himself. They began to travel to numerous duty stations across the country and world.

As the story goes, a Kentucky man (who wished to remain anonymous) and his father had a hobby of searching for items with a metal detector.

In about 1979, the man and his father were doing their hobby when they came upon the ring at Doe Valley Lake. The ring was found in shallow water.

They retrieved the ring and placed it in a box in the family home. There it remained for decades.

The man’s mother was going through boxes at the home a few months ago when she found the box with the ring in it. 

The man then began a search for the owner of the ring, beginning by looking through old yearbooks at Fort Knox High School with the help of students and staff. The ring had the initials “RH” engraved on the inside of the ring, so he was looking for someone with those initials.

The senior class of 1969 had just one person with those initials: Rumiko Hinzman.

The man then began searching the internet for the whereabouts of Rumiko Hinzman, and that ultimately led him to Lansing, Kansas.

Soon after she received a call from a student at Fort Knox High School to inform her that her ring had been found after 50 years.

“The call came out of the blue,” Rumi said. “I almost didn’t answer because I didn’t recognize the number, but for some reason, I answered.”

The high school student asked if Rumi was the same Rumi Hinzman that attended Fort Knox High School in 1969. And then asked if Rumi had lost a class ring. Rumi confirmed the information.

Soon, the anonymous man mailed the long-lost ring to Dodson, who is deeply appreciative of the efforts of the man and the students and staff at the school.

She plans to keep the ring safe in a jewelry box in her Lansing home.

“It’s probably not worth $1.50,” she said, “but it’s precious to me.”