Ring headed back home to owner

Published 12:11 am Sunday, June 22, 2014

NATCHEZ Thirty-nine years after it was lost 189 miles away from home, Paul Allen McAndrews’s class ring is headed back to the hand on which it rightfully belongs.

McAndrews lost the ring in the summer of 1975, when he was working at an oilfield site in Shubuta, in Clark County, a year after he graduated from South Natchez High School.

The ring apparently sat on the site for years, and was covered until an oilfield worker, J.D. Barnett, kicked a rock and found the ring underneath.

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Barnett held onto the ring for a year, until he found out a fellow oilfield worker, Owen Hornstein, lived in Natchez. Hoping to return the ring to its owner, Barnett handed the ring over to Hornstein and asked him to find its owner.

Hornstein had only a couple of clues to go on, the year of the graduation, the high school and the initials P.A.M. etched inside the ring band.

Hornstein thought he’d found a couple of candidates for the ring’s potential owner, but they didn’t claim it, and last week, he approached The Natchez Democrat for help in finding the owner.

Within hours of the publication of the story of his search, Hornstein said he’d received nearly 50 calls about the ring, helping him identify the owner of the ring as McAndrews.

One of those callers was McAndrews’ mother, Maxine, who said she called Hornstein and was able to describe the ring to him after friends told her about the story in the newspaper.

“I ran back in my memory bank, and I remembered (the ring) had guns on it,” Maxine said.  “I remember when he lost it, in the summer of 1975, when he was working that summer for an oil company.”

That Hornstein ended up with the ring is kind of a funny coincidence, Maxine said.

“Mr. Hornstein and my husband have hunted together for 15 years, and he had spoken with my husband Monday,” she said. “I don’t know why he didn’t think of us before.”

Maxine said she and her husband are happy to have the ring back, and will have it cleaned before sending it to Paul, who has lived in North Dakota since 1980.

“We are just happy to have it back, and I know he will be happy, too,” she said.