Mission Accomplished! Red Devil Ring Returns to Lincolnton

March 02, 2005

How can the internet (and our little website) reunite a Lincoln County Red Devil and his state championship ring?

Our story began January 27 when we received an email with the subject "15-0 State Champs! 1993?". The email was from a person in Clarksville, Tennessee, that we'll call Tennessee Lady to protect her privacy. Clarksville, a city of around 120,000, is located northwest of Nashville near the Kentucky border.

That first email:

Hello from Clarksville Tn. Could you tell me who was the manager of that winning year football team please? Manager Gumby I believe, and do you know how I could get in touch with him. Thanks so very much. Warmly, [Tennessee Lady]

Our response:

The Red Devils' chief manager for much of the past 20 years has been Vernon Wilson. One of the student managers may have been named Gunby, but certainly not Gumby. -- Tradition

And we start finding out exactly what this is about ...

Thanks so much Johnny! I have a gorgeous class ring with LC in bold letters with a small stone in it. GUNBY, you were right, sorry for the mistake. Do you have any idea how I could get in touch with him? Thank you for the reply; I am excited to be getting closer to reuniting this pair! Warmly,

So we forwarded the email to Coach Marcella Goldman

I will pull some yearbooks or go and look at the plaques on the wall in Coach's office and see what I can come up with! I will let you know what I find when I find it! -- Marcella

Meanwhile, my curiosity took hold and I asked Tennessee Lady where she got the ring

I had found it in a tanning bed in Clarksville, Tn. And I immediately approached the young gal working and she seemed so disinterested it wasn't funny. She pulled out a drawer and said, I'll throw it in here with the rest of the junk! This ring is not junk, not so much that the dollar sign is high, [but] it means something to someone for sure! It was a place where I had a membership and I made a point to tell everybody that worked there that I had a ring when someone came in looking. The place is closed now. I guess I have had it maybe 2 years and in moving I came across it again and with the Internet, I thought maybe now I could track down the rightful owner. With this being a military town -Fort Campbell, it is hard to imagine what story there may be behind it. I just know it isn't mine and I want to get it back where it belongs. Thanks so much for your help. Keep me informed at what you find out. This is all above board, with so many scams out there these days, I don't want a reward, just to return it. I want to be sure we find the right person though which I don't think is going to be too hard. I am excited! Thanks.

Back in Lincolnton, our intrepid researcher hit paydirt!

Success! I looked in old yearbooks and found the manager with the last name Gunby. Of course, it did not give his first name so I had to look through classes. Found him - he was in the 9th grade. I went to the main office to find Chris Gunby's records.
Lee Elam asked me why I needed them. I told her I was looking for his address or parents and explained the situation. Lee then told me about his mother being Peggy Wells [a paraprofessional at LCHS]. Now you know the rest of the story. Chris is stationed [in Baghdad, Iraq]. His mom told him about the ring. Marcella

We forwarded the good news to Tennessee Lady, who responded ...

Hello again. I can't tell you how grateful I am for all this trouble I am putting you through but in the long run, we'll all feel terrific I'm sure. I guess now wait until Mom comes back to work and she can tell me what to do with it, send it to her, or directly to him. She could sure surprise him for his next birthday and wrap it up for him, he'd be wondering the rest of his life! I'm going to Chicago for the weekend so I won't be back on until Monday.I hope to have a message from you with instructions. I hope you have a wonderful weekend!

Marcella emailed Tennessee Lady with the return info, and some well-put comments ...

I think it is wonderful that you actually took the time to look for the ring's owner. Most people would have just tossed it in a drawer and thought nothing of it. Isn't the Internet awesome in this respect? Mrs. Wells' address is ... Lincolnton, GA 30817. ... She appreciates all that you have done!

OK, time to get out the tissues. You're going to need them when you read this next email

Mission accomplished and now the rest of the story. You asked why I would do that -- hmm, let me count the ways! Consider yourself a captured audience for just a minute.

I'm 47 and and a few years ago I had a terrible car accident that I actually physically died twice in and I lost 10 years of memory. Imagine my surprise when I was NOT in my 30's but well into my 40's, wasn't married anymore although thought I was going into 21 years of life like that; I was homeless and a terrible alcoholic -- no hope happening for me anywhere in sight, zilch!

Somewhere along the way sobriety found me and I'm thrilled with it, never thought that one could ever happen, and then Habitat for Humanity found me and we built my home and I do believe I am the most blessed person in the world. Life is SO good. In those lost years I am yet to find someone I had wronged so I guess I have lived a pretty fair life towards others and I am a firm believer that what goes around, surely comes around, both for the good and the bad. Who knows, my son in Florida or my daughter in Pa. right now may be having a flat tire and someone may take the time to give them a hand; it all just seems to work out.

I wrote a note with the ring that is on its way, telling her there was no need to send me money but please do something nice for somebody else - maybe go visit an old person that could sure use company. I don't mean to sound corny. It is how I have always viewed life. Some say the glass is half full, some half empty. Heck, I am SO grateful to have a glass, it's a start! Again, thank you so very much for being a part of this, I figure we can be brats to everybody else the rest of the day right? I hope your day is fabulous; I'm planning on making mine that way. Warmly, [Tennessee Lady written to Marcella]

As Tennesse Lady promised, the ring has arrived in Lincolnton:

Mrs. Wells confirmed to me today that she received the ring. She also told me that the ring is not the only gift Chris Gunby recently received. He is the proud father of a newborn who decided to come 2 months early. ... Chris will be arriving home from Baghdad within a few days. Let's keep his family in our prayers! ... Marcella

And there you have it. Thanks to a caring person in Tennessee, and a coach in Lincolnton, a Red Devil will return from Iraq and be reunited with his lost State Championship Ring. Our sincere thanks to all those that made this little Devils' tale a happy one.

And one more thing, as requested above, PLEASE DO SOMETHING NICE FOR SOMEONE TODAY!