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Kentucky man reunited with class ring he lost nearly 40 years ago

Published: Apr. 5, 2021 at 12:43 PM EDT
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SHEPHERDSVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - A 1971 Bullitt Central High School class ring was found, restored and returned to its original owner after it disappeared nearly 40 years ago.

Bullitt Central High School staff members got a call from a woman in Indiana who said her father, who passed away in 1996, had a hobby of treasure hunting with a metal detector.

“Over the years he’d found a number of objects, some with value some without,” Jason Wells, the Bullitt Central High School athletic director, explained. “A fair number had value he could turn into some extra cash. Over the years he would hold on to certain items and one of those items stood out.”

That item was a 1971 class ring from Bullitt Central High School. It’s unclear when it was found. It didn’t have a name on it, but the woman said she called the school thinking they would like to have it back. She sent the ring to the high school a week or two later.

“It was in pretty rough condition,” Wells said. “A bit scratched up, bent out of shape and tarnished.”

The ring belonged to someone in the high school’s first graduating class. School staff started to examine the ring, looking for any clue of who it might belong to. They found the initials “CDM” on the inside, barely visible. They opened the 1971 school yearbook to see if the initials matched anyone, and there was only one person it matched to: Curtis Mullins. It turns out, Mullin’s niece works at the high school. She helped the school get in touch with Mullins.

A 1971 Bullitt Central High School class ring has been returned to it's original owner after he...
A 1971 Bullitt Central High School class ring has been returned to it's original owner after he lost it nearly four decades ago.(WAVE 3 News)

The school sent the ring off to local jeweler Val’s Gems and Repair to be fixed up.

Wells said as they were going through the yearbook, they found Mullins’ favorite memory of his senior year: “Receiving my senior ring,” the yearbook said.

“Diving through the yearbook and finding a senior quote like that, it was just textbook to find a senior quote that said ‘receiving my senior ring was my favorite senior memory,’” Wells. “So it just made it an intriguing story for us and we just wanted to celebrate it and use it as a moment to celebrate Bullitt Central.”

On Tuesday night, during the high school’s class ring ceremony for the Class of 2021, seniors received their class rings. Mullins was invited as an honoree for being a student in the school’s first graduating class 50 years ago.

As the ceremony began, Wells took the podium to welcome the crowd of students and family members. He started to retell the story of receiving the ring and trying to figure out who the owner was.

“Mr. Mullins, I owe you an apology,” Wells said, with emotion filling his voice. “I’m afraid we’ve got something that belongs to you and we haven’t been totally honest about why you’re here tonight. This, sir, is your senior ring and I could not be more proud to give it back to you for the second time and welcome you back to the family at Bullitt Central High School.”

For the first time in decades, Mullins has the ring back in his possession.

A Bullitt Central High School 1971 class ring was returned to it's original owner during a...
A Bullitt Central High School 1971 class ring was returned to it's original owner during a senior class ring ceremony, 40 years after it disappeared. (Source: WAVE 3 News)(WAVE 3 News)

“My long lost class ring that I haven’t seen since the 1980s,” Mullins told WAVE 3 News. “Not sure what happened to the ring, it just felt like I lost it or it got shuffled in a move. You know, moving around from house to house and whatever.”

He said over the years, he forgot about it. When the high school invited him to attend the ceremony, he was just honored to be invited. He said he was very surprised to find out they got his ring back and repaired, but he’s grateful for the effort everyone made to get it back to him.

“Of course when I look at it tonight I can tell it’s my ring. It’s just like what I remember, but it’s been 50 years ago,” Mullins said with a laugh. “Not often you get a second chance like that. I’m just tickled.”

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