38 years later, high school football coach returns his wife’s class ring, which he lost on the field

Cameron Smith

When Tim Brunnel was a California high schooler, he lost his girlfriend Nancy Den Dulk's class ring. The cause of the jewelry's disappearance was innocent enough; Brunnel and Den Dulk exchanged class rings and Brunnel was wearing his girlfriend's ring while playing football when it slipped off his finger.

At the time, Brunnel promised that he would find the ring again … and he did. It just took him 38 years to do so, by which point Den Dulk had become his wife.

As reported by ABC news, Den Dulk's ring was discovered while the Ripon (Calif.) Christian High field was being resurfaced. Brunnel serves as the head football coach at Ripon Christian, the same school from which he graduated and -- go figure -- where he lost his now wife's class ring.

Both Brunnel and Den Dulk read about the discovered ring in a local newspaper, but the paper reported that the ring was from 1979, not 1974, when the longtime sweethearts had graduated from high school. Still, both Brunnel and Den Dulk thought there was a chance that the ring was the long lost jewelry, and Den Dulk eventually called the paper asking about it.

She was told that the ring had already been picked up and assumed that it hadn't been hers. Yet the person who picked up the jewelry was her husband, as the ring turned out to have been from their 1974 graduating class, complete with her initials.

Fittingly, once Brunnel picked up the ring, he designed a suitable way to bring it back to his wife. With the director of the Ripon Community Athletic Foundation serving as an impromptu cameraman, Brunnel walked in to greet his wife, who know uses the last name Brunnel as well, with the long lost ring on his pinkie finger.

"Since he had originally lost it, he thought he should be the one to give it back to her," the couple's son, 33-year-old Fred Bunnell, told ABC News.

The entire touching scene was almost too much to believe. That Brunnel would still be in the community and serving as the school's football coach, a position which put him right in the line of all construction projects on the field, was just as surprising.

After it all, a ring finally found its way home, a 38-year journey through a whole lot of dirt finally in its past.

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