Melissa Anderson and her daughter, Annyka, had a bit of a silver lining in the form of a friendly stranger when they celebrated their first Father's Day after the loss of her husband, Bryan, to melanoma cancer in August 2012.
Somehow, the 1983 Minot High School graduation ring he lost the summer after graduating turned up under the bleachers in a soccer field near Big Rock, Ill., about 65 miles outside of Chicago.
The best reason Anderson can think of for the ring being there is that her husband, who had worked for Domino's Pizza at the time, went out to visit friends in the Chicago area around the summer after high school graduation.
Anderson, 5, sits with Melissa
Anderson, her mom, while holding her dad’s old Minot High School Class of 1983 ring. Bryan
Anderson, the dad, can be seen in his senior class photo.
"In June Brad from the funeral home (Thomas Funeral Home) called me and said that there was a guy ... that had Bryan's class ring," Anderson said in an interview with The Minot Daily News. "He said, 'Oh, be careful, you never know sometimes.' So, I was a little apprehensive about calling but I called and he said, 'Hey, my name's Ed, I found your husband's ring. What do you want me to do with it?' And I said I'd love to have it."
Edward Lemmer, of Big Rock, Ill., is retired from a career spent at Caterpillar, but now works about 10 hours a week answering phones and such. And that's where he had to go when she called, so he asked her to call back that night. So, she did.
"He gave the phone to his wife and she got the address and then hung up, and I said, 'Noooo, I need more,'" Anderson said. "So then I called back again and I said, 'Tell me about it.'"
"I've got one of these Geiger counter things and I was just out messing around and I found it," Lemmer said to The Minot Daily News by phone from his home. "I found a couple of quarters and then I came across this thing and picked it up and saw that there was a name inside of it. ... I cleaned it up a little bit and took it over to a colleague."
Lemmer admits that he doesn't use computers very often, but that friend of his did. He looked up the name and the school and found that Bryan Anderson had recently passed away. With that information, Lemmer reached out to the funeral home in an attempt to give the ring back to the family.
From there, Anderson described the ring to him and he sent it by mail.
"He mailed it and it was supposed to be like five days but it took 10 or 11 days to get it," Anderson said. "I was afraid it had gotten lost but we eventually got it."
"After about the eighth day I was like 'Grrr,'" Lemmer said. "I was about to go to the post office."
According to Lemmer, the postman had accidentally delivered the ring to a neighbor first before the neighbor realized the intended recipient and took it over to the right home in southeast Minot.
"What do I need a class ring for," Lemmer said. "I'm an honest person. When I find something I give it back."
Lemmer and his wife actually have a history of finding people's rings and giving them back. Once they found a ring at the bottom of a pool and another at a health spa, both of which eventually found their way back to their owners.
This last Father's Day, the Anderson's celebrated with a barbecue at their house with extended family. Although the ring had yet to arrive, it was the talk of the party.
"But once I got the ring I brought it into work and showed everybody, 'Ooh! Did I tell you about the ring?' So, I work at Artistry (the hair salon) so I told a lot of people," Anderson said with a laugh.
"I think it's cool that Minot gets to hear something good instead of it always being so bad," she added. "Like, 'our taxes are going up' or 'all the crime' or 'all the new people,' now you get to hear something cool."