Visitor to Grand Teton finds ring and tracks down owner to return lost keepsake

Toni Leigh Chandler describes loosing a college ring in the snow during a visit last year to Grand Teton National Park. (©KXAN-Austin)

Toni Leigh Chandler describes loosing a college ring in the snow during a visit last year to Grand Teton National Park. (©KXAN-Austin)

By Ruffin Prevost

A Texas woman is rejoicing after a stranger returned a ring she lost nearly a year ago in Grand Teton National Park.

Toni Leigh Chandler said her faith in humanity was restored after she opened a package containing her Texas A&M University graduation ring, which she lost just before Christmas on a vacation to the Tetons.

Chandler was crestfallen after losing the ring, but eventually got over it.

“I was OK because I knew what the Tetons meant to me and I knew that it was all right to have a part of something, of me there, always lingering in the Tetons,” she told Austin, Texas reporter Jim Swift of KXAN.

Chandler had lost a lot of weight since first getting the ring, and it was loose on her finger. It slipped off when she shook snow from her hands after making a snow angel in the park.

The ring went flying, landing somewhere in the deep snow, but she couldn’t find it after two hours of searching. Chandler even returned later with a rented metal detector, but still couldn’t find the ring, which she earned after gaining a degree in marine biology.

Months later, Barb and John Walsh were visiting Grand Teton from Massachusetts, pulling into the same campsite where Chandler had made her snow angel.

“My husband was backing our camper in,” Barb Walsh told KXAN, “and I was guiding him in and I spotted this shiny gold ring embedded in the camp site, in the gravel of the camp site.”

Walsh, who had lost her own high school class ring in the ocean, found Chandler’s full name engraved inside the ring and decided to try to return it. But without a hometown or other identifying information to help in her search, she enlisted a friend who was a retired FBI agent.

Eventually, Walsh located Chandler and got in touch to tell her she had the ring, and to make arrangements for its return.

While people who spend a lot of time in national parks may not be surprised at Walsh’s consideration and kindness, Chandler was thrilled to get her ring back.

Describing the Tetons, which she first saw as a child, as “magical and mystical,” the ring’s return will make the trip even more memorable.

“I’m so grateful to have it back,” she told KXAN, “and it warmed my heart to know that there are honest people out there. I gained my faith back in humanity.”

Contact Ruffin Prevost at 307-213-9818 or [email protected].

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