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Decades later, Wadena couple reunited with lost wedding ring

Jonell Asfeld sports the wedding band she was reunited with last week after losing it 29 years ago in a southwest Wadena backyard. The replacement ring the couple bought is behind the original.

Nyoaka Koone was weeding the garden at the house she just bought in southwest Wadena last week when she spotted a shiny object in the dirt.

At first she thought it was just a cheap key ring and cast it aside. But after a few minutes, it caught her eye again.

"I happened to see it had a diamond on it," said Koone, a social worker at Wadena County Human Services.

She figured it belonged to the home's previous owner, Dorothy Beyer. So the next day, during a break at work, she brought it over to Beyer's downtown bridal shop, expecting to make her day.

It turns out the ring wasn't hers, although she knew exactly who to return it to. Her friend, Jonell Asfeld, lost it playing volleyball in the backyard 29 years ago.

Beyer reunited Asfeld with her long lost wedding and engagement bands Thursday evening.

"It's just really unbelievable. I've kind of been on cloud nine all day," Asfeld said Friday. "After all these years, we figured we would never see it again."

She recalled the summer night in 1985 when she woke up in the middle of the night and realized her ring was missing. The couple scoured the Beyers' lawn - they even used a metal detector - but "it never showed up," Asfeld said.

They eventually gave up and bought a new ring. But it didn't compare to the original two gold bands adorned with customized, black antiquing.

"I had that done special," Duane Asfeld said. "It was kind of a special ring ... (The replacement) never felt the same."

When Jonell brought the recovered ring home Thursday night, "it was very, very emotional," Duane said. "We're very thrilled that we found it again. That's a long time to be sitting in the dirt."

Koone said the thought of keeping - or selling - the ring never crossed her mind.

"I don't want that kind of karma," she said. "I just thought. Get it back to its rightful owner - make the circle complete ... I'm super happy that I can make them happy."

To demonstrate the couples' gratitude, Jonell dropped off flowers and a card at Koone's office on Friday.

Jonell wrote: "29 years ago, I lost my wedding rings, an emptiness that has always been there in my heart is now so filled. Thank you for your honesty in returning and for finding their home."

It's not the first time the Asfelds have been reunited with a lost wedding ring.

Duane lost his in their basement a couple of years before the tornado. When the twister claimed their home, the ring turned up in the front lawn, a few feet from a freezer rescued from the basement. They figure it must have somehow gotten stuck in the appliance.

Serendipity. Luck. Chance. The alignment of the stars.

For the Asfelds, the terminology isn't as important as the reality: Somehow, the couple will celebrate their 35th wedding anniversary next month with both of their original rings.