Brittney and Jaeson Smith say they did what anyone would have done when they found a long-lost high school ring on the beach: get it back to its rightful owner.
The couple was visiting Jekyll Island from their home in Tallapoosa, GA last week with family when Brittney and her father were walking Driftwood Beach early Wednesday morning.
“We went walking at low tide, and there was a large area of the sticky clay,” she began her story, speaking with First Coast News Sunday afternoon.
She said they were hunting for seashells at low tide.
“When we were in it I saw the shine of a quarter, and when I bent down to pick up the quarter, right beside it was the ring.”
The ring they found had the markings of nearby Glynn Academy, with the class year 1969. It also had been engraved with the initials “K.W.W.” Jaeson quickly went to work, first looking up Glynn Academy’s alumni site online.
“There was only one person that graduated that year whose first name started with a “K” and last name was a “W,” and that was Mr. Kenneth Williams,” he said.
Next, an obituary listing search confirmed that a gentleman named Kenneth Williams with ties to the Brunswick area had passed away in 2009. It just so happened that Jaeson had recently signed up on Ancestry.com, which he used to locate Williams’ son Daniel on Facebook, who ironically lives just 100 miles south of him, in Phenix City, Alabama.
First Coast News reached the younger Williams by phone Sunday evening.
“Honestly, I don’t know right now too many details behind the history of the ring,” 37-year-old Daniel Williams said, only that the ring had been lost in 1971.
He also knew enough to satisfy the Smiths that they’d found the right family when they first talked on the phone.
“‘Can you describe the ring to me?,’” Williams began describing the questions from Brittney Smith, “and I said ‘Yes’. So, I described the ring to her, told her what the initials were.”
Williams explained that his parents divorced many years ago, but that his mother is still living and is thrilled about the discovery.
“My Mom says she can’t wait to put it on her finger,” Williams said, choking back tears. “[My Dad] would probably tell the Smiths, ‘Job well done’.”
The Smiths and Williams plan to meet Tuesday evening about halfway between their homes. It’s a high school ring - not a wedding band - but Williams said it now consecrates a new bond he could have never anticipated.
“It’s going to be a family reunion. The Smith family is now part of the Williams family.”