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Long-lost wedding ring headed back to owner's finger after 48 years

Karen Autenrieth's wedding ring, lost in the Chicago snow in 1973, is on its way back to its owner thanks to a Facebook post and Chicago's Ridge Historical Society. <a href="https://www.facebook.com/RidgeHistoricalSociety/photos/pcb.3856545361050378/3856543241050590/">Photo courtesy of the Ridge Historical Society/Facebook</a>
Karen Autenrieth's wedding ring, lost in the Chicago snow in 1973, is on its way back to its owner thanks to a Facebook post and Chicago's Ridge Historical Society. Photo courtesy of the Ridge Historical Society/Facebook

Feb. 10 (UPI) -- A woman who lost her wedding ring nearly 50 years ago in Chicago will soon be reunited with the long-lost item thanks to the story of a person who more recently lost his ring.

Karen Autenrieth said she lost her wedding ring in the snow in 1973, while she was helping her three kids, ages 2, 3 and 4, get into the car.

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"It was very cold and the snow plows had plowed the snow up onto the curbs," Autenrieth told the Chicago Tribune. "I had parked my car in front of my grandmother's house and I was climbing over mounds of snow, helping each kid get into the car. My hands were cold -- I didn't have mittens on -- and my ring just flew into the snow."

Autenrieth eventually gave up the search, but the ring was found eight years ago by a woman who was gardening at her home, which is in the same area where Autenrieth's grandmother used to live.

The woman who found the ring detailed the discovery recently in the comments under a Chicago man's Facebook post about his own wedding ring, which was lost in Chicago during a more recent snow storm.

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The comment thread came to the attention of the Ridge Historical Society, which offered to help the woman find the owner of the ring.

The researchers used the ring's inscription, "RA to K.B. 4-16-66," to begin their search, and they were eventually able to find Autenrieth's maiden name -- Karen Berk -- by researching the history of her family in the area.

Carol Flynn, a researcher at Ridge Historical Society, found Autenrieth on Facebook and sent her a message.

"I sent her this really enthusiastic, completely disjointed message at 2:30 in the morning," Flynn said. "I went to bed thinking, 'She's probably going to think some crazy lady is trolling her.'"

Karen responded that the ring was indeed hers, and she is still married to her husband, Robert -- the "RA" from the ring's inscription.

The ring is now on its way to San Antonio, Texas, where Autenrieth said her husband will place the ring back on her finger during a family gathering on Valentine's Day.

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