Leave things better than the way you found them. That’s Daniel Slack’s motto.
So when the stay-at-home father of a 2-year-old boy rented a home on Colby Avenue, he decided to spruce up the front yard with a garden. Never having planted one before, Slack wasn’t exactly sure what to expect.
He never expected to strike gold.
But several weeks ago, as Slack sifted through soil in the middle of the small yard, he came upon a 1967 10-karat class ring buried about two feet down, he said. The Columbia High School ring with a green stone had the initials DRT inscribed on the inside of the band. Slack called Jostens, the company that made the ring, but was told sales records weren’t kept until 1987. To add to his frustration, there are nearly 1,100 Columbia High Schools in the United States, Slack was told.
“Everyone was telling me to go hock it, go sell it,” Slack said. But he just couldn’t do that.
Nowadays, so many youngsters don’t even graduate from high school, so they never have the option of buying a school ring, he said.
“Something like this is important,” he said. “This is a relic of something you strived for and achieved.”
As his garden started brightening with foxgloves and purple sage, so did his prospects for finding the ring’s rightful owner. An ad about the ring in an Eastern Washington newspaper caught the attention of a manager at a Best Western motel in the Tri-Cities area, who called Slack to tell him the 1967 class of Columbia High School was having its 30th class reunion there.
Slack contacted a member of the reunion committee and confirmed that a woman named Dawn Thomas had graduated from Columbia High School in 1967. He even verified that the insignia on the ring was that of the school’s; a mushroom cloud and an atomic symbol. But once again, he hit a roadblock.
“The problem after that was that no one knew where she was,” he said.
That didn’t stop Slack. He next stopped by the county assessor’s office to find out who used to live in his house. No match. He and a friend then visited the Everett Police Department and searched its database.
About ten years ago, a home on Grand Avenue was burglarized. Several pieces of jewelry were stolen, including a wedding ring and a class ring. The owner of the missing items was a Dawn Stuchell, Slack said. With that new information, Slack called the reunion committee and found the number for a Dawn Stuchell. It turns out that Thomas was her maiden name and Stuchell is her married name, Slack said.
Stuchell, who has a home on Whidbey Island, knew about the discovery before Slack had a chance to call her. Long-lost high school friends called her to tell her the news and to chat about old times.
“It’s just been kind of fun to hear from all these people,” said Stuchell, who admitted she hadn’t planned to attend her class reunion.
“But now, after this, I’m going to go.”
The class ring is the only piece of jewelry to surface since the burglary, Stuchell said. She hopes to run a metal detector over the yard to see if there are any more lost items.
No one knows how the ring ended up buried in Slack’s front yard. Since his precious discovery, he’s also come across a well-preserved John Kennedy political button and a 1906 Belgian coin.
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