Ring lost decades ago in Kentucky on its way back to owner ... in Washington state

The Flat Lick Elementary class ring from 1978, which has turned out to belong to David Louis Mills of Vancouver, Wash.
The Flat Lick Elementary class ring from 1978, which has turned out to belong to David Louis Mills of Vancouver, Wash. Photo provided

Gary Fishman can rest easy. The 1978 class ring he found in Corbin is finally on its way to its owner, who lives in Washington state.

Fishman, an Ohio metal detecting hobbyist, found the ring on a trip to Kentucky. The Flat Lick Elementary ring had the initials D.L.M.

David Louis Mills lives in Vancouver, Wash., with his wife, Paula. David Mills left Knox Central High School after two years, served in the Army and National Guard, and eventually went on to work at dams in Idaho, Montana and Oregon.

“I had almost forgotten about the ring,” Mills said.

Fishman, who spent several hours on the phone with him, said Mills is a “great guy who has been proudly serving our country.” During his search for the ring’s owner, Fishman had shared that the initials D.M. were engraved inside. He had kept secret the middle initial so the owner could identify the ring.

Fishman did exhaustive research trying to find the ring’s owner: He tried the Knox County High School, the Knox County Board of Education, public library and Historical Museum, the ring manufacturer (Bale) and class ring websites. After exhausting all those options, Fishman approached the Herald-Leader/ for help; an article on the ring appeared in the paper and online earlier this week. .

Mills’ friend Chris Brewer of Barbourville contacted him after the article appeared. Mills’ brother, Larry, saw the story, too.

Larry Mills said in an email that his brother lost the ring more than 30 years ago while camping at Laurel Lake.

In a serendipitous twist, David Mills had once found a class ring — also in Corbin — and reunited it with its owner. His find came 23 years ago in a Corbin trailer park, when he was planting a garden and found pieces of a ring.

David Mills was able to contact the mother of the woman who owned the ring, and it was reunited with its owner.

Karma came around 23 years later, when Fishman found Mills’ class ring.

“Although some folks think metal detecting is a lucrative hobby, as the vice president for the Ohio Detectorist Association, I will assure you that most of our finds are promptly put in the trash as a community service,” Fishman wrote.

“The coins we find cover the expense of our batteries and equipment. It takes countless hours to be lucky enough to recover a ring in any condition. So this is special for many reasons, and I am happy as this has come full circle for Dave.”

Mills has nothing but admiration for Fishman’s efforts to find the owner of the ring.

“It seems like the news is all gloom and doom, but I thought this was pretty neat,” Mills said. “I told him (Fishman), ‘I wish there were more people in the world like you.’”

Cheryl Truman: 859-231-3202, @CherylTruman