Gabe Dorpinghaus figures he lost his high school class ring around 1998 or 1999.
But that’s a broad approximation, based on vague, nearly 20-year-old memories from when he and his wife last saw it. The sudden loss of the ring remained shrouded in ambiguity, until recently. Dorpinghaus still has no idea where or how he lost it, and truthfully, he said he never gave the matter much thought.
“You get busy with life and stuff,” Dorpinghaus said. “I really never wore it much after high school, anyway.”
Despite having abandoned his search over a decade ago, last week Dorpinghaus was contacted by the Aubrey Police Department. They had the ring. In fact, they’d had the ring for years.
On his very first day at the station, Aubrey Police Chief Tommy Payne said he found the ring sitting in his desk drawer. That was eight years ago. Upon finding the keepsake, Payne immediately tried to track down its owner.
There seemed to be no date on the ring, Payne said, and no name to indicate who it might belong to. The only thing he had to work with were the initials TCB, engraved on the inside of the band. He also knew it belonged to a Pilot Point graduate. After searching for an owner whose initials matched those on the ring, Chief Payne came back empty-handed. Eventually, the ring was placed into evidence, where it remained for nearly a decade.
“It’s kind of shocking to think it’s just been a few miles from me all these years,” Dorpinghaus said. He had forgotten about the ring altogether. He kept it in a lockbox, and when it went missing, he figured he’d just misplaced it.
Last week, Capt. William Townsend of the Aubrey Police Department came upon the ring in the evidence room. He asked the chief if he should try to track down the owner. Payne told him to go for it.
“[Townsend] was able to figure out what year the ring was from,” Payne said. “There were four prong-type things on the top of the ring, and each one had a number on it. It didn’t take him 15 minutes to figure it out.”
Townsend discovered the ring was from 1991. He also noticed the number 25 on the side of the ring – a football jersey number. From there, it was easy.
“Pilot Point’s small enough that I figured they’d know who played number 25 on the football team in ‘91,” Townsend said. “I called up the school and got a name.”
After discovering Gabe Dorpinghaus, Townsend looked him up on Facebook. Townsend said he was intrigued to see that Dorpinghaus’s son currently plays for Pilot Point’s sixth grade team as number 25, carrying on the tradition. All signs seemed to point to the ring belonging to Dorpinghaus, so Townsend reached out to him through Facebook and let him know they had found his missing ring.
“I could tell he was surprised and probably excited,” Townsend said.
Dorpinghaus went to the station to recover the missing item, and he enjoyed hearing about how the officers tracked him down. He said they did a great job piecing it all together.
Payne told Dorpinghaus someone originally discovered the ring at Ray Roberts Lake and turned it over to the police years ago. Dorpinghaus was baffled, and said that because he kept the ring in a lockbox and never wore it out, there was absolutely no way he could have lost it at the lake. He speculated that it could have possibly fallen into the wrong hands after he moved, and that somebody other than him might have been the one to lose it on the beach that day.
The originally silver ring is now brown and tarnished after years of disuse. It was already weathered when Chief Payne discovered it eight years ago. The engravings on the inside were nearly impossible to read, he said – all except for TCB, which Dorpinghaus revealed stands for “Taking Care of Business.” It was the football team’s motto.
Now reunited with the ring, Dorpinghaus plans on taking it to Jostens to get cleaned and polished. He doesn’t plan on wearing it, claiming the ring doesn’t quite fit his finger like it did when he was 17. Instead, he has a lockbox he’s going to use to keep the ring safe.
“I’m glad to have it back,” Dorpinghaus said. “I’m going to hold onto it.”