Hobbyist finds owner of lost Tyler high school class ring after 40 years

A Tyler man is one step closer to reuniting a Robert E. Lee High School graduate with the class...
A Tyler man is one step closer to reuniting a Robert E. Lee High School graduate with the class ring he lost more than 40 years ago (Source: Nick Sweet, Facebook)
Updated: Jul. 2, 2018 at 5:34 PM CDT
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A Tyler man will soon reunite a former East Texan with the high school class ring he lost more than 40 years ago.

Nick Sweet said he's an avid hobbyist who oftentimes finds himself exploring the city with his metal detector. During the July 4 weekend, he found something that stood out among his many lost-and-found treasures. 

"I was out Saturday morning, metal detecting sidewalk strips here in Tyler, and came across a class ring from 1972," Sweet said. "It was from Robert E. Lee."

Sweet said his discovery happened on S. Donnybrook Ave. when his metal detector started giving him a "sketchy" signal, which he said usually means he found trash or something else insignificant.

"I dug it anyway," Sweet said. "It was about 5 inches down in the ground, and when I popped it out, I could clearly see it was a ring. When I pulled it out, I noticed it said 1972, I was like 'Man, somebody lost this a while ago.'"

The ring had the school's name engraved, as well as the graduation date and initials, so Sweet got to work trying to find out who those 3 letters belonged to.

"I did a little bit of research, I called the school, and looked up all the names that belonged to the initials that were stamped inside," Sweet added. "Within two days we contacted the owner and we're going to get it back to him already."

It didn't hurt that the Facebook post he made about the ring also had more than 1,000 shares, and even got the attention of the man he was trying to find, who now lives in Jacksonville, FL.

"He said, 'Man, I'm really thankful for you going out of your way' and I said no, it was my pleasure, I hoped to get it back to you," Sweet said.

Sweet said the ring's owner, Travis Smith, told him he lost it not long after graduation in 1973. He had been looking for the ring since, unaware that it was buried underground.

"I lost it 45 years ago, so you pretty much have given up all hope of ever finding it again," Smith said. "I find out that this guy finds it, it's just amazing to me, it's unbelievable almost."

"He was in disbelief, he had come to the realization that it was gone, that [he was] never going to find it again," Sweet said. "He said 'It just warms my heart beyond belief."

As for how the ring wound up where it did, Smith used to live in a duplex on S. Donnybook, just at the other end of the block where Sweet found the ring buried. Smith has since moved to Florida, so Sweet will be handing the ring off to a family member that lives nearby. However, the two men have already planned to meet next year when Smith comes back for a visit
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