A college ring missing for nearly a half-century was found by a treasure hunter and returned on Thursday to its owner who had long ago given up hope of ever finding it.
Retired fork lift driver Barbara Behrens, of Alvarado, spends hours with her metal detector, hunting for buried treasures.
"It's very interesting if you like to dig and hunt stuff," she said.
Often, the discoveries are old soda cans or other pieces of worthless metal.
But recently, in a field south of Fort Worth she dug up something gold.
"And it kept getting cleaner and prettier, and I'm going, 'Wheeew,'" she said.
It was a college ring from Texas Wesleyan College, which is now Texas Wesleyan University.
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It was buried several inches in the ground but was in incredibly good shape.
The ring was inscribed with Texas Wesleyan College, the year 1968, and the initials "FHJ."
Behrens asked for help from others in the Cowtown Treasure Hunters Club.
The club president did some detective work on the internet, searched old college yearbooks and found only one man matched the clues on the ring.
The initials FHJ?
Frank Henry Johnson, a retired teacher and real estate agent from Irving, said the ring was stolen in 1970 or 1971, just a few years after he graduated.
Club members invited Johnson to their meeting Thursday night to return it.
"There you go," Behrens said as she handed the ring to its long lost owner.
Johnson, who now is a part-time school bus driver, said he never imagined he'd see the ring again.
"Let's see if it fits," he said.
He put it on his pinky instead of his ring finger.
"I weighed 165 pounds when this ring was fitted," he said. "Now I'm 230."
Johnson thanked the group and Behrens in particular.
"You guys have got to just give unbelievable memories to a lot of people," he said. "This just shocks me. I had forgotten about it, I really had. I'll wear it with you in my memory."
Behrens said she was happy to return it.
"It kind of makes you feel good inside that you can do something for somebody like that," she said.
The ring was stolen along with Johnson's wallet and watch from the old Pate Museum in Cresson, he said. That's the same area where Behrens found it, buried several inches underground.
Johnson said police found his billfold in a ditch about a week after it was stolen.
His watch is now the only item still missing.
He joked the treasure hunters could search for it next.