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What was lost has now been found.
Thanks to Phyllis Smith and her yearlong quest to solve a mystery of the missing class ring.
While cleaning out an apartment she rents out, Smith and her daughter discovered forgotten boxes of clothes left on the downstairs landing. Smith told her daughter to donate the clothing to charity.
As Smith’s daughter was folding the clothes, she found a high school ring, engraved with images of deer and fish, and the name William Barnett.
Smith, a Lawrenceburg resident, said she didn’t know who William Barnett was, but she knew she needed to return it to the right person.
“Now I had possession of it and it didn’t belong to me; it belonged to him,” Smith said.
Smith put the ring in her jewelry box for safekeeping, consequently forgetting all about it for months.
One day, as her granddaughter playing with her jewelry, Smith was reminded of the ring, and resumed her hunt for the owner.
Smith posted on the web forum Topix and a website devoted to lost high school rings, but had no luck.
She then thought maybe the ring’s owner had died, and began to check the newspaper’s obituaries.
When she came across an obituary listing William Barnett as one of the pallbearers, Smith said, something about the name “just clicked.”
Eventually, she connected with Tracy Cammack, Barnett’s aunt, and decided to surprise Barnett with the ring at her home after Barnett got off work.
Smith later learned that Barnett’s father, who died in 2007, purchased the class ring for his son.
Barnett, class of 2000 at Anderson County High School, said the ring, worth about $400, was stolen from him and he never thought he’d see it again.
He finally did get to see it, though it took about five and half years.
Smith she was tickled to be able to find the rightful owner, and said she didn’t want any sort of payment or reward.
“’William, the look in your eyes and the hug you just gave me is more payment than I could ever ask for,’” Smith said, speaking of the moment when she presented the ring to Barnett.
Barnett said he’s just glad to have his ring, which holds so much meaning for him, back.
“I was pretty psyched because I marked it off as lost,” he said.
Smith was pretty excited, too.
“The best Christmas present I could have ever received was to find him,” she said.