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​School ring mystery solved — 40 years later

Ohio Detecorists Association members find object.

​A ring missing for nearly 40 years was reunited with its owner thanks to two local men out on a metal detecting expedition.

Gary Fishman of West Chester Twp. and Chris Rhoden of Lebanon recently were hunting in Corbin, Ky., when they found a silver 1978 Flatlick School class ring engraved with the initials D.L.M. with their metal detectors.

“I knew I had to return the ring to its owner but had no idea how important this ring truly was at that time and how difficult finding the owner would be,” Fishman said. “I had also previously returned a gold high school ring with just a little assistance from the school to identify the student by supplying the three initials and the graduation year. This time it took almost two months of research, advice and persistence.”

After discovering Flatlick School had been an elementary school, Fishman contacted schools, libraries and historical societies, reached out via social media, searched online sites and networked until he found Dave L. Mills, who now resides in Vancouver, Wash.

“Dave L. Mills’ mother scraped together the money to pay for this ring while he was in the eighth grade to acknowledge his success of soon graduating Flat Lick Elementary School in 1978. This was a big achievement, surpassing his parent’s education at about 13 years old,” he said. “Although Dave did not go to high school — less than 50 percent did in that rural area of Kentucky, he did earn his G.E.D and has had a long career serving our country in the military while raising a family.”

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Fishman is a founding member and current vice president of the Ohio Detectorists Association. Rhoden serves as president.

“ODA is a diverse and fun club, consisting of member’s, male and female, ages ranging from 12-80 years old with various levels of experience,” Rhoden said. “We are the largest group in southwest Ohio and the tri-state area, having around 65 members and growing.”

ODA members, who hail from the Cincinnati and Dayton metro areas, meet monthly and participate in group and competitive hunts. They assist community members in finding lost valuables, offer metal detecting services to law enforcement and work with historical societies and local museums.

The club is hosting an open house event Tuesday, April 4, in Waynesville with special guest speaker Greg Shipley, who will discuss his finds from excavations at the Ft. Loramie trading post site and Wayne’s Legion troops. The relics he recovered include Indian Trade silver items, military artifacts, buttons, coinage and gun parts.

While metal detecting can lead to fascinating finds, most of what is discovered wouldn’t be considered treasures.

“Although some folks think metal detecting is a lucrative hobby, most of our finds are promptly put in the trash as a community service. About a third are worth cleaning, researching or collecting. The coins we find cover the expense of our batteries and equipment,” Fishman said. “It is a very peaceful hobby, and it is great to be outdoors getting exercise. It is the thrill of the hunt, any of us will tell you, finding the unknown.”

Contact this contributing writer at lisa.knodel@gmail.com.

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