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Charly Haley, Published October 14 2012

Long-lost ring unites long-lost friends

FRAZEE, Minn. – Terry Shannon usually finds pop tops and chains while metal-detecting, but about a month ago he stumbled on a Moorhead High School class ring that led him to an old friend.

Shannon, 71, was metal-detecting in the Otter Tail River near his home in Frazee when he found the ring. A name was engraved in the high school class ring: Gary Schlauch.

When Shannon brought the Moorhead ring home, his sister-in-law spent about two hours on the Internet trying to find the owner.

“I called the number she tracked down, which was (the ring owner’s) father,” Shannon said.

Shannon discovered the ring had been lost 25 years ago and its owner, 43-year-old Gary Schlauch, is serving in Afghanistan with the U.S. military. Shannon told the father to thank his son for his service.

It was a little more panicky on the other end of the phone line.

“When (Shannon) first called asking if I was Gary’s father, I just kind of lost it,” said Jordan Schlauch, 76.

Schlauch thought Shannon was from the military.

“I was expecting the worst news about Gary. … That’s kind of always in the back of my mind.”

Schlauch calmed down when he realized Shannon was talking about a ring. But because of the initial shock, Schlauch didn’t catch Shannon’s name.

When Schlauch received the ring in the mail at his Lake Park home from Shannon the next day, he recognized the name on the envelope. He and Shannon used to ride in squad cars together while working for the Moorhead Police Department in the 1970s.

“He called and asked, ‘Do you remember me?’ ” Shannon said. “We’d lost touch since 1980, so it was neat we reconnected.”

Shannon still had a clock Schlauch had made and given to him when he left the Moorhead department to be the Becker County sheriff in Detroit Lakes.

“It’s such a coincidence that we were old friends,” Schlauch said.

He was also surprised his son’s ring was found.

“It’s unbelievable. Twenty-five years in the river, and he found it.”

Gary Schlauch emailed his thanks to Shannon. “I lost the ring while tubing down the river with some friends,” he wrote. “We were nearing a bend in the river and I felt the ring falling off my finger. I tried to grab for it, but it fell out of my grasp. I stayed behind looking for it, but gave up after about a half an hour. I thought I’d never see it again. Then 25 years later, I hear it has been found. That’s just amazing. Thank you.”

Jordan Schlauch said this is the second tour in Afghanistan for his son, who works with military helicopters.

Shannon has found other class rings and wedding rings while metal-detecting and has returned them to their owners.

But this ring was special. “That was really neat. It was one of the neater things that I’ve experienced.”

Shannon and Schlauch both plan to stay in touch.

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Readers can reach Forum reporter Charly Haley at (701) 235-7311