FORT MILL — When Fort Mill resident Tammy Bernard, 57, lent her 1976 Fort Mill High School class ring to a friend, she never thought it would be nearly 40 years until she saw it again.
The ring disappeared at the end of 1976, just a year after Bernard, the former Tammy Strickland, first put it on.
Thanks to Rick Furr, an Indian Land High School teacher and 1973 Indian Land alumnus, and his family, Bernard saw the ring for the first time in decades two weeks ago, a sight she said brought tears to her eyes.
I was thrilled, Bernard said. I couldnt believe it.
The ring was left in a bathroom at Panhandle, a country store and grill that is now a gas station and post office at the intersection of Highway 160 East and Highway 521 in Indian Land.
Cashier Maude Furr, the 1939 Fort Mill High School valedictorian, found the ring and held onto it in the hope of reuniting it with its owner. After his father died, Rick Furr found the ring in his fathers dresser drawer.
Rick Furr kept the ring in his truck for years hoping to someday find the owner. Eventually it was misplaced until two weeks ago when Furr found the ring, still in its original box, in a junk drawer in his home. He contacted Randy Smith, owner of Smiths Paint and Body shop on Highway 160, who is also a Fort Mill High School alumnus. Smith did some research and found the name, Furr said.
Furr was able to connect with Bernard via Facebook.
Its neat that after 40 years, she can get her high school class ring back, he said.
At 94, Maude was finally able to see the ring return home.
Im glad I lived long enough to see that ring on your finger, she told Bernard.
Bernard said she is thankful for Maudes persistence.
She knew how important it was to get that ring back to me, she said. Without her I wouldnt have it at all.
Now, Bernard proudly wears her Fighting Yellow Jackets class ring wherever she goes.
It looks brand new, she said. Im thankful they took such good care of it for me for 40 years.
Furr urged people to check their junk drawers for hidden treasures.
Some things are not lost, theyre just misplaced, he said.