By Josh Whitener
Warner received a precious ring from his wife, Pat, but lost it in 1983 while doing yard work at their former house in Matthews’ Windrow subdivision. The Warners moved to Weddington in 1999 – without the ring.
The ring was recently discovered unexpectedly by a new “bearer” – the owner of the Warners’ former home. But in this story, ring and master are reunited – for a much happier ending that was 30 years in the making.
The story of the ring began in 1961 when Bob Warner enlisted in the U.S. Navy. At the time, he was engaged and had given his fiancée a diamond ring. After the couple realized it “just wasn’t meant to be,” the ring was returned to Warner, who held onto it for the next several years.
After meeting his future wife, Pat, Warner said it was clear she was the one for him and bought a new engagement ring for her. Knowing the ring from Warner’s previous engagement held both monetary and sentimental value, Pat decided to take the diamond to a jeweler and have it forged into a gold ring. She had the ring engraved with “Aug. 5, 1967,” which was Warner’s XXth birthday, and gave it to him as a birthday present. The two were married two months later, in October 1967.
“I wore that ring for years. I never took it off,” Warner said, adding though the ring wasn’t intentionally supposed to be a wedding band (Pat bought a separate ring for that) it fit so well that he started wearing it on his left ring finger instead of his wedding band.
Fast forward to 1983. The Warners were living in the Windrow subdivision when the ring disappeared. Warner was out in the yard doing chores, including laying stepping stones near the back patio. After calling it quits for the day and going inside for a shower, Warner realized his ring was gone.
“Your heart sinks about 1,000 miles when you lose something like that,” Warner said.
Warner and his family spent the rest of the day – and the next several weeks – searching through grass, bushes and trees for the ring. They even borrowed a metal detector to aid in their search. But the efforts proved in vain, and the family accepted what at the time appeared to be the inevitable – the ring was gone for good.
In December 1999, the Warners sold their home to the Braswell family and moved to Weddington. Over time, the ring was forgotten – that is, until last month.
The Braswells were outside doing their own yard work when they discovered something they never expected to find. David Braswell was laying his own stepping stones and was digging in the dirt underneath one of the existing stones when his hand brushed against something he thought was a small rock. Braswell picked it up and to his surprise, it wasn’t a rock – it was a gold ring with a diamond, engraved with “Aug. 5, 1967.” Knowing the ring held sentimental value, the Braswells tracked down the home’s former owners.
When Bob Warner got the call saying the Braswells had found something he might want, he had no idea what it could be.
“I said, ‘What in the world could David have that I would want?’” Warner said. “I just know them from selling the house.”
But as soon as he heard the description of the ring and the date engraved on it, Warner knew the impossible had indeed occurred – his precious ring had been found.
Warner took a special trip to the Braswells’ to retrieve his lost possession.
“He showed me the ring and tears just came to (my) eyes,” Warner said. “You look at the ring and say, ‘Where have you been hiding?’”
Warner said he’s grateful the Braswells not only found the ring, but also cared enough to track down its former owner. He even took the Braswell family out for a special Easter lunch as a “thank you” for their honesty and generosity.
“I think it was very admirable of them,” he said. “I can’t be anymore grateful to them for the ring to be back in our possession, and after 30 years.”
His wife, Pat, was unable to accompany her husband to the Braswells’ to retrieve the ring, but was elated when he brought it home.
“It was like the day that I gave him the ring,” she said.
Warner says he’s more careful these days when doing yard work. He now stores the ring in a safe place until his tasks are done. But when he’s not tending to the grounds, he’s wearing the ring like it’s brand new. In some ways, he said, it is.
“There’s no wear or anything on it,” he said. “I was flabbergasted that I would ever see the ring again. I’m wearing it like I was when (Pat) first gave it to me.”