A lake gives back a wedding ring, 25 years later

Jaine and Gary Andrews on May 1, 1987. Jaine with the newly found ring. Steve Hemmingsen

Steve Hemmingsen, our man in Hendricks, Minn., and former anchor at KELO in Sioux Falls, S.D., has closed the book on the case of the missing wedding ring.

Steve passes this along today from “the little town by the lake.”

Let’s go back a quarter of a century. A young bride and groom…co-workers at KELO TV in Sioux Falls and comparative newly-weds…are at a party on Lake Hendricks, way out on Minnesota’s western frontier with South Dakota, the 9,999.5th of Minnesota’s 10,000.

It’s a beautiful Saturday afternoon. Everybody’s in the water having a good time; swimming, waterskiing, knee boarding. A fun day at anchor Steve Hemmingsen’s lake cabin. Suddenly, there’s a gasp as the groom notices that his recently-acquired symbol of “til death do us part” has parted from his finger. We all do a search in the murky, roiled waters; a hopeful, but useless pursuit. But one has to try.

Now let’s rocket ahead that quarter of a century to Saturday, September 19, 2015. My neighbor from the four-generation cabin next door, Darice Huber asks: “Steve, did you lose a wedding ring? I found it when I was wading in about 8 inches of water between our docks.”

I answer, “Yeah, I lost a wedding ring 20 years ago, along with half of my possessions, but nothing current.”

Smart ass answer out of the way, I suggest she check among her kin since they have had a steady stream of visitors all summer. Darice says she has checked, but has come up empty.

My memory jogs: “Darice, this would be an incredible longshot, but Jaine Andrews’ husband Gary (Goldy) lost his wedding ring at one of our parties, but that was like 25 years ago.” However, I take a picture of the ring and email it to Jaine, who is still at KELO and still married to husband Gary.

Almost immediately comes the response: “OMG. That looks like Goldy’s first wedding ring!” Keep in mind, all of our eyes were 25 years younger a quarter century ago, and neither Darice nor I saw an inscription. Jaine told me there would be an inscription of May 1, 1987.

I put it under my magnifying glass and can’t believe it: 5-1-87. Another neighbor stops in for a look and notices another inscription: “JB to GG.” This is now getting unbelievably believable. Jaine Andrews’s non-air name was Jaine Brissee, JB. That’s about as positive an ID as you can get.

Now we start pondering the possibilities. It’s very likely the little band of gold was lost on the other side of my dock, a minimum of 30 feet from where it was found. How did it survive the wind and waves of the Buffalo Ridge, not to mention the ice bulldozer that shoves the sand and silt and gravel around all winter, sometimes toward shore, sometimes not? Winter after winter for 25 years?

Sentiment aside, that or course raises the question: “Why don’t the elements give me back some of the nuts and bolts and washers and wrench sockets that I’ve dropped over the years, something useful?”

Oh, well. The lake giveth and taketh away and…very occasionally…giveth back.