Grand Island Man Celebrates 80th Birthday With Class Ring He Lost More Than 60 Years Ago

A Grand Island, NE, man celebrated his 80th birthday with a class ring he lost more than 60 years ago — thanks to the “pay it forward” attitude of a North Platte couple that shares a love for metal detecting and making the world a better place.

Greg and Crystal Mattke were treasure hunting in front of a local high school recently when Greg picked up an unusual signal on his metal detector.

“The machines talk to you if you know how to listen to them and what to look for on your screen,” Greg told The Grand Island Independent. “It was actually a number that I wouldn’t normally dig.”

Fortunately for octogenarian Dale Sheeks, Greg decided to give it a go.

He took his trowel and dug down 6 inches and encountered a tangle of surface roots.

Greg nearly gave up, but decided to dig a little further.

At 7 inches deep, he reached into the hole and found Sheeks’ 1958 Wood River High School class ring.

Greg couldn’t imagine how the Wood River ring found its way to Madison Senior High School more than 100 miles away.

After the couple got home and cleaned off the ring, they could tell that there were initials inscribed, which led them to Sheeks in Grand Island. Administrators at the Wood River school were able to connect the ring to Sheeks within two hours.

In a strange stroke of luck, Sheeks’ nephew works for the Wood River schools, and as soon as he heard about the school ring find, he connected his uncle with the Mattkes.

Gregg recounted, “He called me and said, ‘I just had my 80th birthday and I’m just so excited to get this back.’”

Sheeks told Greg that he married his high school sweetheart right after their graduation in 1958 and divorced one year later.

She apparently took the ring without him knowing it and lost it at a football game at Madison High School.

The Mattkes hand-delivered Sheeks’ class ring, along with balloons, a congratulatory cake and a T-shirt from his high school.

Sheeks was brought to tears when he saw his class ring for the first time in 62 years.

“Paying it forward, you’ve got to pay things forward,” Greg told The Grand Island Independent. “People have done stuff for me and this is an opportunity for us to do something for somebody else, which is a part of who we are.”

Please check out The Grand Island Independent‘s full story and video at this link.

Credits: Screen captures via theindependent.com.

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