Miraculous return of class ring missing for 65 years

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(CBS News) -- An Illinois couple who lost a ring with enormous sentimental value is thrilled to the ring was returned thanks to the kindness of a stranger.

Mike Geiger told CBS News’ Michelle Miller that he likes to hunt for treasure. In fact, he goes out with his metal detector to comb the paths and waterways of Wisconsin as often as five times a week.

But last week, while jet-skiing on Lake Tomahawk, he stumbled upon what he calls, his biggest find yet, beneath 5 feet of water.

“I knew right away it was a class ring. I knew it was old just because of the style,” said Geiger. “I know that the school has the ability to look back in the records and find the R.D.'s in the class of 49.”

The ring was also inscribed with the initials R.D., a critical clue to the ring's owner.

After contacting the school, he had a list of phone numbers for three people with the initials. The first one hung up on him. The second one was 82-year-old Richard "Dick" Diedrich.

“And my first reaction was, ‘Well you've got to be kidding. I've never been in Waukesha, Wisconsin,’ where he identified as being from," said Diedrich.

Waukesha, where Geiger lives, is a two-hour drive north of Cicero, Illinois, where Diedrich grew up and graduated from J. Sterling Morton High School. When the ring vanished 65 years ago, Dick's high school sweetheart, Doris Tyle was wearing it.

"I had gone into the girls wash room to wash my hands, so I took the ring off,” said Doris. “When I turned around it was gone."

Stolen was more like it and then somehow ended up on the bottom of a Wisconsin lake some 350 miles away.

The ring is not just a reminder of their high school days, but a symbol of enduring love, that's produced three kids and two grandchildren. The couple has been married now for 60 years.

"I never dreamt I’d get it back. That's been a real surprise and pleasure,” said Doris. "I have learned there are some wonderful people out in the world who are willing to go out of their way to do good things.”

Mike Geiger is just happy to have helped the couple.

“It's just kind of neat that I know that I gave that whole family a big piece of happiness,” said Geiger.

The ring’s return proves that finders are not always keepers and that the losers are sometimes the biggest winners of all.