Ring recovered after 36 years

Thirty-six years after Donna Claver lost her engagement ring, Terry Claver recovered it from a broken toilet. (Associated Press)
Thirty-six years after Donna Claver lost her engagement ring, Terry Claver recovered it from a broken toilet. (Associated Press)

STANFORD, Mont. – Terry and Donna Claver have the type of marriage that newlyweds imagine for themselves one day. After nearly four decades together, the Clavers’ love and affection for each other still shines through.

This Thanksgiving, a lost symbol of the Clavers’ love returned unexpectedly. After missing for more than 36 years, Terry found the engagement ring he bought Donna – back when he was a 19-year-old farm kid and she was the new girl in Stanford.

When the Clavers were expecting their first child, a “very pregnant” Donna was in the bathroom when she took off her engagement ring and set it on the toilet tank’s lid.

“I saw it slip toward the toilet bowl, and I went to grab it, but I missed and it fell in. It went right down into the little hole at the bottom of the toilet.”

Terry and Donna drained the toilet and took it off the floor, trying to get at the ring from the underside, but no amount of shaking, poking or prodding would set the ring free. “We didn’t have a lot of extra cash for a new toilet, so we just put it back,” Donna said.

A few years later, Terry and Donna sold their little house. Over the years, it was resold several times, including to a group of hunters.

A couple of weeks before Thanksgiving this year, Terry and his son were roofing a house across the street from his old home. Terry happened to look over his shoulder and saw the hunters carrying the old toilet. A hard freeze had broken the toilet’s tank, and they were about to throw the old toilet away. Terry climbed down off the roof, walked over to the hunters and told them he’d be happy to throw the old toilet away for them.

“I put it in the back of my pickup and drove it into the shop,” he continued. “I got a sledgehammer, and I whacked it” – and there was the ring.

Amazingly, it seemed undamaged.

“We cried and we laughed,” Donna said. “We giggled and we danced. It was great.”

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