(WSYR-TV) — As he made his way through a snowy November day, Connell Raate thought back on his meeting with a man desperate for some help. “When he was shoveling off his deck, he lost his wedding ring. Flew right off.”
Connell has been finding lost rings and digging up loose change around Central New York for more than 20 years, the last five or so as a member of an organization with an international reach. “Who ya gonna call? Ringfinders.”
Much of what he turns up is loose change, nickels and dimes that will never be enough to cover the thousands of dollars he’s spent on the metal detectors and other high quality equipment he uses for his hobby. But he’s philosophical about it. “How many people have a hobby of playing golf?,” Connell says. “Well, OK. There are some very good golfers that can make a living off it. Most of them don’t.”
The payback for Connell and his friends in The Ringfinders comes when they uncover something of value… Most often, sentimental value. Consider the thrill he got a couple years ago, when he returned the class ring of a woman who had since died. His discovery cam just as the woman’s youngest granddaughter was planning the biggest event of her life without the grandma she adored.
“She’s getting married,” the family told him, “And she’s gonna wear it down the aisle as something old. You can’t make up stories like that. You can’t. It moves me to this day.
There’s another heirloom that’s stuck with Connell since he found it about three years ago on a beach in Onondaga County. “This has turned out to be an Army Air Corps pilot’s ring.” After some research, he deduced that it was a pilot’s ring because of a bird symbol on the side. Much of the ring’s story has worn away after years under water, buried in shifting sand. So, Connell has tried to recreate the ring’s back story to help find an owner.
“The Army Air Corps disbanded in 1946 and they are now the United States Air Force. So that puts this ring previous to that time, Raate says. “World War Two, more likely than not. It could’ve been Pacific Theater, but I believe it was probably European Theater. So, this ring on a pilot probably has seen action. It’s probably seen action.”
No one has recognized the ring on social media. He thinks the veteran who first owned it would be over 100 years old by now, and chances are he’s gone. But Connell hopes he may still be able to identify who he was, and return the ring to family members. If you know how this story might end, send us a note at SomethingGood@localsyr.com, and we’ll put you in touch with Connell.
And if you lose a ring or other valuable and need help finding it, you can connect with Connell or one of his colleagues through the interactive map on-line at TheRingfinders.com.