Mt. Pleasant Area High School class ring — lost for 40 years — returned to owner
Along with yearbooks and caps and gowns, a class ring is a popular memento for high school graduates.
John Edward Waugaman liked his Mt. Pleasant Area High School Class of 1966 ring so much he wore it regularly for the next 10 years.
Then, sometime around 1977, he believes, the ring disappeared.
The yellow gold ring with the red stone was out of sight and, pretty much, out of mind for 40 years, says Waugaman, 68, of Acme.
Then last month, Nick Taxacher, 26, of Mt. Pleasant Township, went fishing at Jacobs Creek near Freeman Falls, as he often does.
The CSX employee, his dad and his work foreman had a little luck, and then Taxacher walked down a steep, muddy bank.
“On my way back up, I slipped and fell. My face landed right on top of the gemstone,” he says.
Taxacker dug it out and rinsed it in the creek.
“It was still in good condition,” he says.
He could see the class of 1966, Mt. Pleasant Vikings imprint, and read the initials of J.E.W. inside.
Taxacher posted a photo of the ring and its description on his Facebook page.
“It was just a cool idea. I wanted to see if I could track down the owner,” he says.
The photo, and Nick's story, was shared more than 1,700 times. Eventually, Anne Waugaman saw the post and recognized those initials. And she knew her dad has lost his ring.
She reached out to Taxacher online.
“My mom and dad, since their dating days, spent time at the falls,” she says.
Katy and John Waugaman, who goes by Ed, courted in high school and married in 1971. Their home is not far from Waugaman's family's former home, near Freeman Falls.
Soon, Taxacher visited Waugaman, who pulled out his old yearbook.
“I could see it in his face — I was returning a piece of history to him. He was very happy about that,” Taxacher says.
Waugaman suspects he may have left the ring on a blanket while cooling off at the falls with his family 40 years ago.
“Thank goodness I put my initials on it,” he says.
Katy Waugaman, 67, says the family was tickled to learn where Taxacher recovered the ring.
“It brought back a lot of nice memories,” she says.
The two commend Taxacher for his efforts.
“Nick is so excited. He is the sweetest kid. To think he could have sold that . ... We just want Nick to get credit. He was relentless about finding us,” Katy Waugaman says.
On his Facebook page, Taxacher tells the many people who followed the ring's journey that it has arrived safely home.
“This has been the greatest experience I've ever had. (I) have to thank everyone who helped out to make this happen,” he writes.
The Waugamans put the ring in a jewelry box for safekeeping.
And yes, Ed Waugaman says, it still fits.