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Couple reunites wedding ring with owner's widow

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June 21, 2012 08:46 PM EST | AP

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AUBURN, Calif. — Thomas King lost his wedding ring years ago. He and his wife had given up on finding the white gold band with the five diamond flecks.

"We thought it was a lost cause," said Darlene King, 78. "I told him it probably went down the drain or something."

The couple had married on April 29, 1961, which is inscribed inside the band. Thomas King, a Korean War veteran, died in January – less than a year after he and his wife celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary.

But though he didn't get to see his ring again, it's now in the hands of his widow, thanks to a Sacramento couple and the help of a few news organizations.

Shannon and Steve Callahan found the ring three weeks ago under the passenger seat of their 2004 Pontiac Grand Am, which they purchased earlier this year in Sacramento. The couple believed it belonged to the car's previous owners, who had bought the car at a dealership in El Paso, Texas.

The Callahans thought the owner still lived in there, so they contacted the local newspaper, the El Paso Times, for help in their search for the ring's owner. The Kings, however, had moved to California after they bought the car years ago.

Steve Callahan called their search far-fetched, but the Texas newspaper wrote about their mission, which was then distributed nationally by The Associated Press. The story caught the attention of the newspaper in the Callahans' hometown of Sacramento.

When the newspaper contacted Darlene King about the recovered ring, she was skeptical.

"The first question I asked was, is it white or yellow gold?" King said. "Because if it was yellow, it wasn't his. And it would be disappointing if it wasn't his."

The Callahans described the gold band to King, right down to the inscribed date. On Wednesday, a couple showed up at her apartment in a senior community and returned the ring.

"I want to give this ring back to you," Shannon Callahan said. "I kept the ring in my jewelry box, and every day I would walk past it thinking this ring belonged to somebody."

King said she planned to give the ring to her son.

"It'll be a gift from his father," she said.