Mark Watters and Cindy Shepherd have never met. Watters lives in Scott County, Shepherd more than 300 miles away in Redkey, Ind.
So it was with a bit of surprise that Watters received an email from Shepherd recently inquiring if he had lost his high school class ring . . . more than a quarter-century ago.
A week later, the 1982 Scott High School graduate and his class ring were reunited. The story of how it came to be is an intriguing tale of a forgotten piece of Scott County tucked away in a box in central Indiana for the better part of two centuries.
Cindy Lowe Shepherd and her sister, Debbie Lowe White, traveled to Scott County on Aug. 9 for the Lowe Family Reunion at Oneida City Park. It was their first trip to Scott County since the death of their father, Ben Lowe, who was originally from the Smokey Junction community.
Lowe, who died in May from complications of COPD, spent most of his life in Dunkirk, Ind. But several of his siblings still live in Scott County — including sister Ruth Crabtree and brothers Moses, Delford, Kenny and Paul (three other siblings live outside Scott County).
In 1986, the Lowe Family Reunion was held at the Smokey Creek Baptist Church. Ben Lowe traveled back to Scott County with his family, including daughters Cindy and Debbie, who were 14 and 11 at the time.
While the adults reminisced about days gone by and caught up with family, the kids slipped away to the Indian Hole, a popular swimming hole in New River just above the church.
“We were wading out about knee-deep, and we saw the shine and went after it,” Cindy Shepherd recalls. It turned out to be a class ring — Scott High School, Class of 1982.
Cindy and Debbie made up stories of how the ring might have wound up in the swimming hole — the stories of typical teenage imaginations at work.
“It was our treasure and when we got home, Dad put it away,” Cindy said. “Although we still told our own version of the stories of how his girlfriend threw it out in the river or how he was swimming for his life and it slid off, we had forgotten that we actually still had the ring.”
It was when the sisters were going through Ben Lowe’s belongings after his death in May that they rediscovered the ring and remembered the discovery in the river near Smokey Junction so many years ago.
“We knew the right thing to do was find the owner,” Cindy said.
Armed with the initials engraved on the ring — M.A.W. — and the fact that it had belonged to a 1982 graduate of Scott High School, they set out to find the owner. As it turned out, finding the owner was as easy as employing the powerful connectivity of the Facebook social giant.
“I just started messaging peopole and found someone who put me in touch with a man named Mark Watters,” Cindy said.
They made a connection — first by email and then by telephone — and the ring was on its way to Scott County via the U.S. Postal Service in days.
“I’m still in awe about getting my ring back after all these years,” said Watters, who these days is a grandfather who enjoys spending his time babysitting his two-year-old grandson.
“It’s a small thing but it kinda restores your faith in the goodness of people,” he said.
Watters said he looks forward to being able to pass along the ring he thought he would never see again to his children.
“It’s funny,” he said, “it has more sentimental value now than it ever did.”