High School Sweethearts' Class Ring Recovered After Nearly 40 Years

PHOTO: Nancy and Tim Bunnell, who have been together since their sophomore year in high school, circa 1973.Nancy Bunnell
Nancy and Tim Bunnell, who have been together since their sophomore year of high school, circa 1973.

The class ring that a Ripon, Calif. high school student gave to her boyfriend nearly 40 years ago was found on the football field where it was lost, decades after she thought it was gone forever.

Nancy Bunnell said it wasn't until she had seen an article in the local newspaper that she thought she might be reunited with her class ring that her now husband, Tim Bunnell, had lost at football practice in 1973.

Bunnell said she and her husband started dating in their sophomore year. While they attended different schools -- she went to Ripon Christian High School and he to Ripon High School -- they traded their class rings in the fall of 1973, like all couples going steady, she said.

Bunnell said her husband normally took the ring off before going to football practice, but one day, he left it on. He gave it to the team's equipment manager to hold, but by the end of practice, the ring was gone.

"They looked everywhere," she said. "Apparently he lost it out on the field."

Bunnell said she was disappointed at the time, but ordered a replacement ring soon after.

"I had his ring, and I wore it all the time," she said. "I never got to wear mine."

It wasn't until their local paper, The Ripon Record, ran a story on July 18 about a mystery ring found at the under-construction high school football field that she thought she might be reunited with her original ring.

The ring was gold, with a dark blue stone in the middle and an emblem on top, Bunnell said. On one side of the ring it said 19, and the other side 74 for the year she graduated. Inside were her initials -- NDD -- short for Nancy Den Delk, her maiden name.

While the picture of the ring in the paper looked like the one she had ordered from Ripon Christian High School, the details were not an exact match. Even though the article said that her initials were engraved on the inside, the paper reported that the ring was from 1979, not 1974.

Bunnell called up the newspaper, but someone told her that the ring had already been claimed. Little did she know, her husband had already picked it up and made plans to give it to her.

Bunnell said when she came home on Aug. 1, the director of the Ripon Community Athletic Foundation, who is helping to coordinate the field's construction, was there with a camera.

"I thought, 'What is going on?'" she said.

Turns out Tim was behind the door, with his wife's class ring on his pinkie.

"Since he had originally lost it, he thought he should be the one to give it back to her," the couple's son, Fred Bunnell, 33.