Plumber Holds Class-Ring Reunion

Ohio’s Mr. Rooter launches four-month trek to locate owners of jewelry retrieved from drainlines decades ago.
Plumber Holds Class-Ring Reunion
Trent Dawson with ring owners Cherie Kessiar (center) and Connie Keck outside Dawson's Mr. Rooter Plumbing shop in Mansfield, Ohio.

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Plumber Trent Dawson recovered a few class rings cleaning out sewer and drainlines over the past 20 years. If he couldn’t identify the owner, he would clean up the rings, place them in a box and never give it a second thought. That was, until Dawson’s teenage daughter came across the jewelry and suggested locating the owners.

“She’s at the age where kids get class rings, and she wanted to see her mom’s and she said ‘go look in the jewelry box.’ She came back with these four rings and wanted to know their stories and how we had them,” says Dawson, president of Mr. Rooter of Mansfield, Ohio. “I told her how I found them while cleaning out different pipes, and she thought it would be cool if we could find their original owners.”

Most pieces of jewelry don’t have many identifiable marks so tracking down the owner is nearly impossible. But, that was not the case with these class rings — they had a school name, graduating year and name.

“I knew it would take some work, but we could find the owners. Class rings hold a lot of sentimental value.”

To track down the ring’s owners, Dawson reached out to the high schools on the rings as well as Mr. Rooter’s national public relations office, which spread the word about the missing rings on Facebook.

Once word got out, it didn’t take long for Dawson to connect with the owners.

“Hearing the stories behind the rings and getting them back to their rightful owners is pretty neat,” he says. “The rings’ sentimental value is priceless.”

That was definitely the case with Cherie Kissiar. Her 1991 class ring from Mansfield High School was the last thing her mother, who was battling breast cancer, bought her before she died. Kissiar lost the ring in the early ’90s and thought she would never see it again.

“It was unbelievable to be able to give her back something that meant so much to her,” Dawson says. “It was a very touching story.”

Kissiar discovered the ring was found after Mansfield City Schools included a short article about the ring and a photo in its newsletter.

Dawson also found a 1969 class ring in a manhole that had probably been sitting there since the late 1970s or early 1980s. Owner Connie Keck lost the ring at a school that was later torn down so she thought the ring was lost forever.

Another ring was so dirty that Dawson initially thought the graduating year was 1977. His wife took the ring to a jewelry store, which did a more thorough cleaning and discovered it belonged to a 1972 graduate. That extra piece of information helped track down the owner.

“They all have such great stories,” says Dawson, who reunited three of the rings with their owners during a small ceremony at his Ohio shop. He mailed the fourth ring to its owner, who lives in Kentucky. “It was a wonderful experience to reunite the rings with their owners,” he says. “It took about three to four months to track everyone down, but it was worth it.”

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