Class ring returned to family after 83 years under water

Photo of class ring found in the central Florida spring.
Photo of class ring found in the central Florida spring.

HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - The family of a former student at Mississippi Woman's College, now William Carey University, has been reunited with a piece of family history lost 83 years ago.

While swimming in a central Florida spring in the 1930s, Louise Hearst Entzminger lost her gold class ring. The ring sat at the bottom of the spring for 83 years untouched, until Florida native Reed Banjanin discovered the ring earlier last year using a metal detector. The ring was found in near pristine condition with Louise Hearst engraved on the band. Reed felt it was his responsibility to return this ring to its rightful owner and contacted director of alumni relations Cindy Cofield at William Carey University.

"I received a phone call, and actually it was from Reed Banjanin in July of this past summer. He said that he had been scuba diving in Florida and found a ring and it was inscribed with Mississippi Women's College and the name Louise Hearst and 1923," said Cindy.

Alumni relations scowered through archived yearbooks in an effort to find as much information as possible. It was discovered Louise had passed away in 1975, but finding the next in kin wouldn't be so easy. Months went by without any helpful leads, until Reed discovered Louise had married Robert Entzminger. From here he learned that her grandson, John Entzminger, was living in Virginia. This is when John received the unexpected phone call on the most unexpected of days, his 75th birthday.

"I think that I found your grandmothers ring and I said what? Because I never realized she lost her ring. She never mentioned it to the family that I can remember," said John.

Reed expressed his wish to deliver the ring back to the family to which it belonged and on Christmas Eve, the package containing his grandmother's ring arrived in Virginia containing all the same luster as it did in the 20s.

"It looks like it's brand new. You know, it's a small ring and it's all gold and no indication for being in that pond for 80 years," said John.

Director of Alumni Relations Cindy Cofield says the experience has been delightful and that it falls on a very special year for the university.

"In 1911 we were Mississippi Women's College and this is the centennial year for the college. So, this is an interesting thing to happen this year," said Cindy.

John Entzminger plans to either pass the ring on to his grandchildren or potentially donate it to the university. He also hopes to one day travel to Florida to meet Banjanin to thank him for returning this piece of family history.