Class ring finds its way home

Owner gets jewelry 49 years after loss

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Lone Tree’s Paul Squyer recently had a different kind of class reunion. Forty-nine years after losing his class ring in a Wisconsin lake, it is back on Squyer’s hand. A little less shiny than in 1964, but overall in good condition.

The ring, a gift from his sister, was only a week old when Squyer took a swim in northwestern Wisconsin’s Perch Lake near his hometown of New Richmond.

When the high school senior emerged from the lake, the ring was missing.

“I looked in the water, but we’d been swimming there quite a while and I couldn’t find it,” Squyer said.

Worse than losing the ring was telling his sister, he remembers.

Soon after, Squyer joined the military and left Wisconsin, never to return.

Forty-nine years later, on an early October day, scuba diver Ken Johnson’s metal detector alerted him to a find at the bottom of Perch Lake. The Wisconsin man routinely searches the lake for artifacts, and while it wasn’t the first ring he’d found, this was the first that offered clues to its past.

The initials “NRHS” matched that of nearby New Richmond High School. The year “1964” and initials “P.S.” gave Johnson points from which to start his detective work.

“I went to the high school and sat down with the yearbook,” Johnson said. “But nobody in (the class of) ’64 had those initials.”

That’s because Squyer spent his senior year at a high school in a neighboring community.

Unwilling to give up, Johnson kept searching and found Squyer’s name in the 1962 yearbook. His was the only name that matched the initials on the ring.

“After finding the name in the ’62 book, I just did an Internet search,” Johnson said. “He came up on Facebook, and listed his hometown as New Richmond, Wis. That was the final clue.”

Squyer said he initially thought Johnson’s phone call about the found ring was a joke.  

“I was really surprised,” he said. “I did call my sister and tell her. She said, ‘I guess, after 49 years, I won’t be mad at you anymore.’”

Johnson said returning the ring to its original owner was well worth his time.

“I thought it was kinda fun,” he said. “I could have taken it down to the guy who buys gold and sold it to him, I suppose. But usually these rings mean something to people.”

Squyer plans to have the ring cleaned and resized to accommodate his now-larger hands.

“I’ll have to wear it a few days even though I didn’t wear it much when I had first had it,” he said.