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Gainesville High School class ring comes full circle
Jewelry returns to Gainesville man, decades after giving it to his high school sweetheart
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Lifelong Gainesville resident Bradley Lawson was recently reunited with his Gainesville High School class of 1958 ring, which he gave to his high school sweetheart years ago. - photo by SARA GUEVARA

All Stephanie Moore wanted was a paperclip.

Digging through her grandfather’s top drawer in his dresser — a drawer that remained mainly untouched since his death in 1996 — Moore knew it was the one place in the house her grandmother happened to drop paperclips and rubber bands.

As she felt around, though, the Jefferson resident found something else: A gold class ring from a graduate of Gainesville High School, class of 1958.

“I asked Grandma — I knew her children graduated from there, and I asked, ‘Do you know anything about it?’ And she said no,” Moore said. “It bugged me; I knew it didn’t belong to us.”

Moore poked around on the Internet, hoping to make a connection with a former classmate who has the initials on the ring. Then, she said, she called Gainesville High School last week to see if anyone there could help.

Turns out, Moore’s request wasn’t so uncommon. Longtime city schools employee Beverly Nordholz says she has gotten numerous requests over the years from others who have found class rings, hoping to match their inscribed initials with an owner.

And in this case, Nordholz opened the 1958 GHS annual and match the initials to the rightful owner: Bradley Lawson.

Lawson, a lifelong Gainesville resident who grew up across the street from the original Gainesville High building downtown, said he did give the ring to his high school sweetheart.

But, like many teenage love affairs, the relationship didn’t last. And before he knew it, the ring was gone.

“I was serious; I think I was more serious than she was,” said Lawson, who met his wife, Barbara, a few years after graduating from high school.

High school romances can be so fleeting, anyway. And Lawson said he’s happy things worked out the way they did.

“I thought I couldn’t live without her, but I did,” he said. “And I met my wife, and we’ve been married 44 years.”

It’s a struggle to get the ring onto his finger all these years later, but its condition won’t give away how it was lost, found or where it was before Moore’s grandfather picked it up. Moore suspects her grandfather might have found it at Hurricane Shoals Park, where he worked in Jackson County years ago, and the broken gold chain she found with the ring may have been the cause. But it’s only speculation.

“It looks almost new,” said Lawson, who received the ring in the mail a few days ago. “I have no idea where it was for the last 50 years.”

Now, if only Moore could find her own class ring — she lost hers, and another ring, more than 10 years ago.

“I think it happened when I was coming home from work one afternoon. What I did was I took it off my hand and laid it in my lap,” she said. The rings either dropped in the parking lot of a store, or they are in her front yard, long buried under driveway dirt.

And the second ring she lost that day?

“The other ring was my grandma’s high school class ring ... But hers was from much earlier than 1958. She’s fixin’ to be 84,” Moore said. “And it was from Gainesville.”

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