Utility crew finds OCHS class ring missing since 1969

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By Jacquelyn Stoess Hack

It was the summer of ‘69 when La Grange native Bruce Duncan misplaced his senior ring.

Duncan said the ring didn’t fit when he received it at the conclusion of his junior year at Oldham County High School.

Despite his mother’s frequent suggestions that he take it to a jeweler to re-size, Duncan continued to wear it.

He lost the ring just a few weeks after graduation.

Now, more than 44 years later, the ring is back in Duncan’s possession.

La Grange Utilities’  field operators Brian Golden, Bryan Nolin and Johnathan Bates found the ring Feb. 11 while flushing a sewer line at the corner of Fifth and Spring streets near La Grange Elementary.

Duncan, 61, grew up on Fifth Street in La Grange and suspects the ring slipped from his finger into a bucket of suds while washing his car.

He drove a 1967 Corvette Sting Ray as a teen, “and I washed it in the driveway all the time,” he said.

When he finished, he’d carry the bucket of dirty water and soap suds into his parents’ house.

If nobody was looking, Duncan said he’d pull a drain guard from the kitchen sink and pour dirty suds directly into the drain.

He had to work quickly to avoid getting caught.

After all, just like the dozens of times his mother told him to resize his class ring, Ruby Duncan also told Bruce to keep dirty suds from his car wash bucket out of her tidy kitchen sink.

By removing the drain guard, the soap suds quickly flowed down the drain without pooling in the sink.

Duncan said he believes the soap suds caused his class ring to slip from his ring finger into the bottom of the bucket while washing his car.

Duncan assumes he poured it down the drain in his haste to empty his bucket of suds.

The La Grange Utilities crew spotted Duncan’s ring Feb. 11 while flushing a line on Fifth Street.

His initials are engraved inside.

La Grange Utilities contacted Duncan’s brother, Johnny, after comparing the initials to a list of decades of Fifth Street residents.

When the caller from La Grange Utilities described the ring – a blue stone with an Oldham Co. High School Colonel on one side with 1969 on the other – Johnny knew it had to be his brother’s.

Though the center stone is cracked and the gold is now tarnished, the ring no longer needs to be resized for Bruce Duncan’s finger.

He spent the next morning scrubbing the ring with Tarn-X and jewelry cleaner.

Duncan said he thought he’d never see the ring again.

The ring was a gift from his parents, and finding it ends decades of speculation by his mother, Ruby, who wondered if her son had regrettably given the ring to a high school girlfriend.

For more than four decades, he has been teased about losing the ring.

Misplacing his belongings is uncharacteristic of him, Bruce said as he marveled at the ring.

“Even a few weeks ago, Mother said, ‘I still can’t believe you lost that senior ring!’” he laughed.

Bruce said he’s amazed that his ring is still intact.

He’s grateful that when his ring resurfaced 44 years after he misplaced it that the crew at La Grange Utilities took the time to track down the owner.

“I really appreciate their honestly,” Duncan said.

Duncan said he plans to continue cleaning the ring so it shines like new. After all, he wore it less than a year before he lost it.

Duncan is known for elaborate storytelling and couldn’t wait to share the news that he found his ring.

His mother is elated.

“I said, ‘Well, Mother, it didn’t go to a girl!” he laughed.

And when he shared his theory of how it ended up spending 44 years in a sewer line, Ruby Duncan told him she remembers watching him wash his car in the driveway like it was yesterday.

Duncan’s wife, Barbara, sells advertising for The Oldham Era.

The couple met after high school.

And although his class ring came back into his possession just two days before Valentine’s Day, Bruce said he had no plans to give it to his wife as a present.

“If it doesn’t have a diamond, she doesn’t want it,” he laughed.

Email us about this story at: editor@oldhamera.com.