Karen Keller never thought she would see her late ex-husband's high school class ring after it went missing, but she always knew she was supposed to have it.
His family is seeing the ring for the first time nearly 40 years later, all because of one lucky boy and his good heart. The St. Joseph family feels like they are now getting a piece of their dad back.
"We started dating the summer Frank lost it. He had told me that summer, 'I'd give it to you, but it is somewhere out in Lake Contrary,'" Keller said.
Keller's high school sweetheart, Frank Keller, whom she later married, bought the ring at the end of his junior year in 1971. He lost it just a few months later water skiing. Frank Keller died in 2005.
Recently, Karen Keller got a call that someone found his missing class ring.
"I called back, and I said, 'Is it a Lafayette High School '72 ring?' She said, 'Yes,'" Karen Keller said.
It turns out 9-year-old Nathan Cook and his grandfather, Dwyane Cook, were searching for treasures on Lake Contrary, located in Buchanan County, MO.
"He was on his own. I was looking with another detector," Dwyane Cook said.
Nathan headed toward the receding water line when his metal detector started sounding.
"I started digging it up, and it took a while," Nathan said.
Nathan's grandfather said his grandson hollered at him. When he turned around, the ring was in his hand covered with sand.
"I was so excited for him. I said, 'Oh, you found a class ring,'" he said.
Nathan was also amazed.
"I wanted to know what, where was it from, how did it get here and could we find who had it," Nathan said.
The two cleaned it off and noticed the initials F-K scratched into it. Any other child might have kept it, but not Nathan.
"Somebody else who had it would want it back," Nathan said.
He took it home to his mother, who through friends traced it back to the owner.
"I couldn't believe that I could get it back to them," Nathan said.
It was a proud moment for Nathan's grandfather who had a similar experience but with a much different outcome.
Forty years ago, he found a 1946 class ring. He placed an ad in the newspaper to find the owner, but it went unanswered.
Even though the Kellers were married for 25 years and divorced at the time of his death, the ring holds sentimental value.
"This holds so much meaning for his kids. We were thrilled to get it back because not only has he given us the ring back, but he's given us a story to share for future generations," Karen Keller said.
It is also a piece of their dad they'll hold on to forever.
Keller said she has plans to give the ring to her daughter, Courtney, since her son got her late ex-husbands's wedding ring after his death.
And Courtney was so thankful, she wrote a letter to Nathan saying, "My father, just like you, enjoyed searching with a metal detector and in some ways I believe he led you to his ring."
The family believes this was meant to be.
Copyright 2013 KCTV (Meredith Corp.) All rights reserved.
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