Tears came to Joan Rossiter’s eyes as she saw a turquoise stone emerge from the dirt.
It had been 10 years since she last saw her ring.
Rossiter, 83, of Janesville has loved the aesthetic of turquoise and silver since she was a little girl. That’s why the oblong turquoise stone set on a silver band caught her eye as she walked past Dewey and Bandt Jewelers in downtown Janesville in 1953, she said.
She bought the ring for about $5 and made weekly payments of 50 cents to pay it off.
The ring stayed on Rossiter’s finger every day for decades. She wore it the day she met her husband, on her wedding day, while raising five children, through the loss of her 5-year-old-son, Stephen, and all the other special moments she experienced.
She called the ring “her whole life.”
About 10 years ago, Rossiter was working in the garden at her Victorian home on St. Lawrence Avenue when she dropped the ring in the dirt. She searched all over her yard but could not find it.
She was heartbroken.
Her fortunes reversed March 17, when Rossiter glanced out her window overlooking the park behind the Rock County Courthouse. She saw a man digging in the dirt and watched him for a while before she realized what he was doing.
He was hunting for metal with a metal detector.
She thought he might be able to find her long-lost ring.
Rossiter approached the man and offered to pay him to come to her house and look for the ring. The man did so without accepting payment, she said.
He ran his detector over the ground where Rossiter thought she had dropped the ring. The machine started beeping, and the beeps increased in volume until they found the spot where the ring had been pushed about 3 inches into the ground, Rossiter said.
They dug and dug until the turquoise stone emerged. Rossiter cried tears of joy.
The band is so bent that it does not fit past Rossiter’s fingertip. She believes the ring was stepped on and likely run over by a lawn mower multiple times. She plans to get it repaired.
The man left before Rossiter could ask his name. She hopes to find the man so she can properly thank him for returning her treasure to her.
She describes the man as being about 40 years old.
“He said, ‘That ring must have been very important to you,’” Rossiter said.
“It was my life.”