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A story with a nice ring to it

BOWLING GREEN, Ky. (BP) – Longtime Kentucky Baptist pastor and evangelist Don Mathis has preached countless sermons about people being “lost” — but this week the principle of “lost and found” took on a whole different meaning, even though it wasn’t from a spiritual perspective.

Mathis, who has the distinction of serving two terms as president of the Kentucky Baptist Convention, related in a Facebook post this week that his college class ring — lost for 45 years — had been found and returned to him. The specifics of the story have a distinct providential perspective.

Mathis, a 1966 graduate of Austin Peay State College (the Clarksville, Tenn., school became a university in 1967) became the first college graduate in his family.

“I went to Austin Peay with a weak academic background and Austin Peay helped me to regain my academic footing,” Mathis said. “So I continued to proudly wear the APSC ring with no disrespect for my additional training.” Mathis went on to earn a master’s degree and doctorate from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky. “Austin Peay — then and now — just means so much,” Mathis added.

“In the late ’70s, I could not find my ring. I searched to no avail and concluded that I had likely lost it while water skiing in Barkley Lake and gave up hope. 

“Last week I received an email from Mike DeVries, Liberty, Mo., simply stating, ‘I may have your college ring.’ I emailed back: ‘School?’ ‘Year?’

His immediate reply: ‘Austin Peay 1966 initials DRM.’ My ring!

Mathis had three questions …

• “How did you find it?” 

• “How did you find me?” 

• “How can I get it back?”

DeVries replied that he was using a metal detector in a park in Kansas City and found the ring buried.

DeVries said he had a friend who had access to old yearbooks online and asked her to locate an APSU 1966 yearbook and search for a graduate with the initials DRM. She found Mathis’ name. 

He then went to Facebook and found Mathis and his website.

As far as returning the ring, DeVries asked Mathis for his address and proceeded to mail it to him. Mathis now has the ring, as displayed in the accompanying photo.

Of course the question still on Mathis’ mind was how did the ring get to Kansas City, Mo.?

“I have only been there one time,” he said. It was in 1977 when he attended a Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting. He was walking from his car to the convention center — having a Southern Seminary ring in his pocket and an Austin Peay ring on his finger.

“I thought it appropriate to switch them. In the process, I must have missed my pocket with my Austin Peay ring. It bounced over in the grass. Someone or something unknowingly pushed it underground and there it remained for 45 years until its happy homecoming today!”

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  • Chip Hutcheson/Kentucky Today