Class ring returned after 43 years

Wednesday, April 30, 2014
Pard Lowe, left, of Cassville, hands a class ring to Gary Crow, of Peoria, Ill. Crow lost the ring back in 1971 while he and his family were camping in Eagle Rock. Lowe found the ring a few years later, and eventually found Crow and returned it to him last month. Kyle Troutman/

Cassville man determined to locate owner

When someone finds a lost ring, say near a boat dock on Table Rock Lake in Eagle Rock, the first inclination is to sell the jewelry for some extra cash -- not Pard Lowe.

Lowe, of Cassville, was working at the dock in Eagle Rock in the 1970s when he was searching for a set of car keys in the murky water of the swimming area, but instead, turned up a 1971 class ring from a man who attended Richwoods High School.

"We ended up raking some gravel while looking for the keys, and that's when I picked it right up," Lowe said. "It had probably been just sitting there for about five or six years before I found it."

Instead of rushing off to the nearest jewelry shop to sell the ring, Lowe said it struck him that some young man would love to have it back, and Lowe was determined to find him.

That man, Gary Crow, of Peoria, Ill., came out of the woodwork last month, when after years and years of searching, Lowe and his daughter-in-law finally pinpointed which school the ring came from.

"I placed ads in newspapers all over and thought it had to be someone within the four-state area," Lowe said. "My only lead was the mascot on the ring looked like a horse, so I called up some schools in the area but couldn't find a connection."

Lowe said he'd leave the ring on a shelf for about three or four years, then dig it back out and try once again to locate its owner, but to no avail.

"It had been in the console of my old truck for years, and I found it again and brought it in to try one more time," he said. "I had gotten a lot more computer-literate since the last time I tried to search, so I started searching all the schools and trying to find which one it was from."

Lowe said he still may have never found the correct school if it was not for his daughter-in-law, who he admitted had a little greater grasp of technology than he did.

"She came up three days after I started searching again and asked, 'Why do you have your class ring out?'" he said. "I told her, 'It's not mine, but someone in the world would sure like to have it.' She whipped out her smart phone and it wasn't 15 minutes before she'd zeroed in on [Crow]."

Lowe said the two pinpointed the school and called its office, getting a call back the next day saying they'd found the ring's owner by looking at photos of graduates in the hallways of the high school.

Crow said when the school called him to say someone had found his ring, he was in shock.

"I couldn't believe it," he said. "When I called Pard, I asked him if a fish had swallowed it and he caught the fish or something. I just couldn't believe he found it."

Crow said the summer after his graduation in 1971, he was camping in Eagle Rock with his family, and when he went to throw a football, his class ring flew off with it.

"I threw the football and the ring just flung off," he said. "I looked and looked for it for a long time because my parents bought it for me and I thought I'd be in some trouble."

Lowe mailed the ring to Crow not long after the two connected, and Crow and his wife, Barbara, came through Cassville Wednesday on their way to Branson, and the couple stopped in to meet Lowe for the first time, and to take him out to dinner.

Crow said he's thankful Lowe did not sell or pawn the ring, and Lowe said he had plenty of opportunities to do so.

"It just shows there are still wonderful people in the world," Crow said.

Lowe said he could not bring himself to sell the ring because he almost lost his own class ring once, and he remembered how much it meant to him.

"I couldn't sell it because of the value people put on class rings," he said. "And, I just knew there would be some way to get it back to the owner, and I felt that way since the day I found it."

Now that Crow has his ring back after 43 years, he's keeping it a little closer to him.

"My wife has asked to wear it since she didn't get to wear it back then, but I'm too afraid to lose it again," he said.

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