HARRISON COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - Audrey Rita Mendez Covington was a senior at Perkinston Agricultural High School in 1943 when she lost her class ring.
It was found 25 years ago, but the hunt for the true owner didn't begin until it was lost and found a second time.
"It was kind of incredible, you know. At first you're trying to think is this for real," said son David Covington. "It was a great link back to mom's early days. Some of the things that were going on back then."
The family could only guess how it was lost.
"We knew from mom's stories that she loved to go to Ship Island," he added. "That's where it was found, on an excursion there."
Audrey's daughter-in-law, Terry Covington, has her own theory.
"I figured she was out swimming somewhere, having a good time," said Covington. "It's special that we found her ring for her, and I want to be able to tell her."
Peter Skrmetta with Ship Island Excursions was only two years old when he found the ring.
"I found a valuable looking ring on the south side of Ship Island when I was looking for sharks teeth, and I gave it to my mom," said Skrmetta. "I was real proud of myself — thought I found some buried treasure or something."
Beth Skrmetta kept the ring in a filing cabinet that was washed away in Katrina. But, as luck would have it, she found it.
The ring eventually landed in the hands of Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College archivist Charles Sullivan, who traced it back to the family after researching the initials on the ring.
Gulf Coast Community College presented the ring to the family on Saturday; only to have it given back.
"It just doesn't seem right for us to take it back," said son Rick Covington. "It would be more meaningful for her, and for us, for it to stay here in a place that she loved growing up."