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Brainerd High School class ring returned to owner more than a decade later

Dave Mick, a metal detector hobbyist from Baxter, found a lost 2005 Brainerd High School class ring by Hardy Lake in Pillager and returned it with the help of his daughter, a Brainerd High School teacher.

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Jeremy Crouse lost his class ring right after his graduation from Brainerd High School in 2005. Submitted photo / Jennifer Klecatsky

Dave Mick of Baxter thought so little of the class ring he found on the beach in Pillager with his metal detector years ago, he tossed it in a drawer and promptly forgot about it.

“A lot of times when I find stuff, I just throw it in my collection at home,” said Mick, a former Minnesota Department of Natural Resources conservation officer. “And then at a later time, I’ll go through it and clean it up and see what I found, you know?”

Brainerd High School teacher Jennifer Klecatsky is the 75-year-old’s daughter. If it was not for her keen eye, the class ring may not have ever been returned to its rightful owner who was a Brainerd High School graduate.

“I was in the process of going through some of the old stuff, and my daughter Jennifer was at the house. And one of the things she came across was this ring ... and she said she recognized the name and stuff and that’s how she got involved,” Mick said.

The owner of the ring is Jeremy Crouse, who works for Fun 'N' Friends, a child care program for students in kindergarten through fourth grade.

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“Jeremy lost it right after graduation in 2005. The ring is engraved and I could see the name inside, so I plugged it into Facebook and was like ‘Oh! I know that guy!’” said Klecatsky, who resides in East Gull Lake.

Mick said he found Crouse’s ring in the water by the beach near Camp JIM in Pillager out by Hardy Lake. Camp JIM exists “to lovingly teach and model the gospel of salvation through Jesus Christ and to encourage people to grow in faith and service,” according to the organization’s website. “JIM” stands for “Jesus is mine.” The camp has been providing year-round camps, rentals and retreats to churches, youths, families and adults for more than 85 years, according to officials.

Crouse said he lost the ring 15 years ago when he worked as a counselor at Camp JIM.

“I was working down by the lake and dropped it in the lake, and I kind of jumped in after it,” Crouse said Friday, Sept. 4. “I guess I didn’t really think to grab like a metal detector or anything. I had lost hope of ever seeing it again. … I thought it’s a lost cause now.”

Crouse said his father bought him the high school class ring, and it was worth at least $300 at the time it went missing.

“It was important to me,” Crouse said of the lost ring. “I worked down at the camp for three years after that, and I guess I kind of looked over there ... but I guess I didn’t really look that hard because I thought, you know, I buried it and it probably never was going to resurface.”

But a metal detector was able to make the difference.

“When you go out metal detecting, you go to different places, you know, and this was just a camp, and I talked to the people to get permission to hunt there. And while I was hunting in the water, in the swimming beach, I found the ring,” Mick said. “It’s a hobby like anything else, like golf or hunting or whatever you want to say, you know? But I got into it — a friend of mine sold metal detectors and he got me into it about 40 years.”

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Mick added. “What you find more than anything is lost money. People lose a lot of money.”

Mick never met Crouse because Klecatsky returned the Brainerd High School class ring to Crouse at the Washington Educational Services Building in Brainerd, where Crouse works at Fun 'N' Friends.

“I was not allowed in the building because of COVID-19, so when I stopped by the building I called the number for them to come open the door, and I gave the ring to Jeremy’s coworker because Jeremy was with kids at the time,” Klecatsky said.

Klecatsky was glad to be of assistance in reuniting the treasured memento to Crouse, just like Crouse has helped her son Jagger, Mick’s grandson, transfer between buses at Washington Educational Services Building when the boy was in elementary school.

“Jeremy was really happy to have it back. He was shocked that someone found it,” Klecatsky said.

Crouse said he is not in the habit of viewing Facebook messages sent to him by strangers but for whatever reasons he opened the message Klecatsky sent him.

“At first I was a little skeptical, but I had asked her ‘OK, where did you find this ring?’ Once she said her dad found it in Hardy Lake I’m like ‘OK, this is probably legit then,’” Crouse said.

The 33-year-old is not losing sight of his 2005 Brainerd High School class ring again because he is now wearing the ring.

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“I wasn’t actually even going to look at the message,” Crouse said of Klecatsky’s Facebook message. “I just thought someone was scamming me or something. … But now I’m really happy she sent it.”

FRANK LEE may be reached at 218-855-5863 or at frank.lee@brainerddispatch.com . Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/DispatchFL .

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Jeremy Crouse, who works at the Washington Educational Services Building, holds his class ring he lost 15 years ago. Submitted photo / Jennifer Klecatsky

I cover the community of Wadena, Minn., and write mostly features stories for the Wadena Pioneer Journal. The newspaper is owned by Forum Communications Co.
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