A Kennewick High School graduate never expected to see her class ring after losing it while swimming in the Columbia River in 1967, shortly after graduation.
But thanks to Juan Manzo of Pasco, the ring has been returned after being lost for 48 years.
Sharon Herndon said that she was swimming at the Finley Lagoon, known as Hover Park on the Columbia River, a few weeks after graduating when she removed the ring to show a friend.
“I took it off to show to a friend and it fell into the water,” she said. “I never saw it again until today.”
Manzo recently found the ring using a metal detector while wading waist deep in the lagoon. Soon after, he contacted the Kennewick School District, hoping to return the ring to its rightful owner.
“I knew that she would be excited and happy about having her ring back,” Manzo said. “It’s in great shape, and you can tell it has been in the water because it is slightly tarnished.”
The ring was a graduation gift from Herndon’s parents, and it was personalized with her birthstone and initials.
“It wasn’t an easy thing for my parents to buy at that time,” she said. “I am the eldest of four children and the only one who got a class ring.”
District employees were able to quickly identify Herndon as the likely owner after looking in the 1967 Kennewick High School yearbook and matching the initials to her name. After that, a phone call was made to her home.
“At first, I thought the phone call was a hoax, so I texted a friend who has worked in the Kennewick School District, and she verified that the employee who called me really works there,” she said.
The school district arranged for Herndon to meet Manzo this week so he could meet her and give her the ring in person at the district office.
Herndon said the timing of getting her ring back could not be better.
“My class is currently making plans for our 50th reunion,” she said.