JACKSONVILLE - An Onslow County woman has her high school ring back, 33 years after she lost it at the beach in Surf City.
Mary Jo Rafferty of Holly Ridge was a senior at Dixon High School in 1979 when she lost her ring.
"We were at a party at a beach house," Rafferty said. "I was sitting on the railing of one of the walkways at night on the beach with my friends, and when I leaned back to brace myself against the beam, the ring slipped off my finger and fell into the sands on the dunes."
They searched but were unable to find the 10k gold class ring set with a sapphire stone. Rafferty went back to scour the same spot several times that summer but could not recover the ring.
An assistant principal at the school called Rafferty's mother earlier this month to see if one of her daughters had lost a ring.
Tricia Lewis of Lynchburg, Va., found it while on vacation in Surf City. Rafferty said the house where she lost the ring was at the north end of Surf City. Lewis found the ring on the south end of town.
Rafferty said the ring traveled less than a mile during the 33 years. Lewis used Rafferty's initials, graduation year and high school name to track down the family.
"That ring survived high tides and hurricanes, even Bertha, Fran, and Floyd," Rafferty said.
The ring is in near-perfect condition, she said, save a few flecks of green corrosion.
"It made me think, maybe nothing's ever lost forever," she said.