BRAINERD, Minn. — Dave Mick thought so little of the class ring he found with his metal detector on the beach in Pillager, Minn., years ago, he tossed it in a drawer and promptly forgot about it.

“A lot of times when I find stuff, I just throw it in my collection at home,” said Mick, a former Minnesota Department of Natural Resources conservation officer. “And then at a later time, I’ll go through it and clean it up and see what I found, you know?”

Brainerd High School teacher Jennifer Klecatsky is the 75-year-old Baxter, Minn., man's daughter. If not for her keen eye, the class ring may never have been returned to its rightful owner who was a Brainerd High School graduate.

“I was in the process of going through some of the old stuff, and my daughter Jennifer was at the house," Mick said. "And one of the things she came across was this ring ... and she said she recognized the name and stuff and that’s how she got involved."

The owner of the ring is Jeremy Crouse of Brainerd.

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“Jeremy lost it right after graduation in 2005. The ring is engraved and I could see the name inside, so I plugged it into Facebook and was like ‘Oh! I know that guy!’” said Klecatsky, who resides in East Gull Lake, Minn.

Crouse said he lost the ring 15 years ago when he was a counselor at Camp JIM in Pillager out by Hardy Lake.

“I was working down by the lake and dropped it in the lake, and I kind of jumped in after it,” Crouse said Friday, Sept. 4. “I guess I didn’t really think to grab like a metal detector or anything. I had lost hope of ever seeing it again. … I thought it’s a lost cause now.”

Crouse said his father bought him the high school class ring, and it was worth at least $300 at the time it went missing.

“It was important to me,” Crouse said of the lost ring. “I worked down at the camp for three years after that, and I guess I kind of looked over there ... but I guess I didn’t really look that hard because I thought, you know, I buried it and it probably never was going to resurface.”

But a metal detector was able to make the difference.

Mick never met Crouse because Klecatsky returned the Brainerd High School class ring to Crouse at the Washington Educational Services Building in Brainerd, where Crouse works at Fun 'N' Friends, a child care program for students in kindergarten through fourth grade.

Klecatsky was glad to be of assistance in reuniting the treasured memento to Crouse, just like Crouse has helped her son Jagger, Mick’s grandson, transfer between buses at Washington Educational Services Building when the boy was in elementary school.

“Jeremy was really happy to have it back. He was shocked that someone found it,” Klecatsky said.

Crouse said he is not in the habit of viewing Facebook messages sent to him by strangers but for whatever reasons he opened the message Klecatsky sent him.

“At first I was a little skeptical, but I had asked her, ‘OK, where did you find this ring?’ Once she said her dad found it in Hardy Lake I’m like ‘OK, this is probably legit then,’” Crouse said.

The 33-year-old is not losing sight of his 2005 Brainerd High School class ring again because he is wearing it now.

Jeremy Crouse, who works at the Washington Educational Services Building, holds his class ring he lost 15 years ago. Submitted photo / Jennifer Klecatsky
Jeremy Crouse, who works at the Washington Educational Services Building, holds his class ring he lost 15 years ago. Submitted photo / Jennifer Klecatsky