"I had no idea at the time when or where I lost it," Smith told Gulf Coast News Today. "I looked everywhere for it, but never was able to find it."
Smith recently received a phone call from his daughter, Laura Winkles, who lives in Georgia. Winkles told him his long-lost class ring was being mailed to him -- along with two letters.
The first letter, from U.S. Navy veteran Pat Appleton, explained Appleton had found the ring on the grounds of the Hawaii base while serving there from 2000 until 2003. The ring had been found among some trash on the ground near the barracks where Smith once lived.
Appleton wrote he attempted some online research, but was unable to find anything about the high school that closed in 1995.
Appleton came across the ring again in summer 2020, and enlisted the help of friend Debbie Porter, who lives near Atlanta.
Porter, who authored the second letter, said she got Smith's initials, CDS, from the ring's engraving, and a private investigator helped her identify a few different men who might be the ring's former owners.
The search eventually led Porter to a phone conversation with Helen Farmer, Smith's ex-wife, who put her in contact with his daughter.
"I was just so thrilled and amazed that these two individuals would go to such lengths to find me after all these years," Smith said. "When I told her the story, a nurse that came to the house said I needed to play the lottery because I must be the luckiest person alive."
Jackie Schauer of Lake St. Louis, Mo., recently shared a similar story of being reunited with her class ring after 43 years. The ring had been found for sale by San Antonio, Texas, resident Richard Escobedo, who has made reuniting people with lost class rings into a hobby.