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The search for the widow's ring

(NBC15)
Published: Nov. 14, 2017 at 1:41 PM CST
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Lee Steinhorst always knew his childhood friend Jessica was the woman he wanted to spend his life with. As Jessica put it, "We've actually known about each other since we were kids. and we've been best friends and in each other's lives for way, way longer than those 4 years" (of marriage). "He always joked that he knew even before me that we were meant to be together."

Lee had never been one to wear jewelry, but he told Jessica two weeks before they married, he couldn't wait to wear his wedding ring for the rest of his life. Jessica said, "I just felt like that (ring) was a connection of our love...and anybody who knew me and Lee and knew that he loved me fiercely."

Jessica had made such an imprint on Lee's life, he wanted her fingerprint on the inside of his ring--a part of her always with him.

"That ring just symbolized that connection that he had to me...that love that he had for me that I never had to question."

Together, Jessica and Lee were raising three children, including their newborn boy, Apollo, when their lives took a tragic turn on Highway 61 outside of Fennimore last June. Lee was driving home from an overnight shift at work, when his car drifted across the center line and into the path of a semi. He was killed in the crash.

As Jessica put it, "There was just kind of a lot of the world stopping--just missing my best friend. I mean I know that he was so much to so many people, but...he was my best friend. I miss that person who loved me unconditionally, and I miss the father of my children, knowing that they're not going to have those memories with him, and they're not going to know just the truly caring and loving person that he was."

They didn't find Lee's wedding ring at the crash scene--something that made saying a final goodbye at the funeral home even more difficult.

"He wasn't wearing it and it just didn't look like my husband without it", Jessica said.

A few months later, Jessica heard about Dan Roekle, who uses a metal detector to find lost rings. Dan said, "From the moment Jessica called and talked to me on the phone, you could just tell how important the ring was to her. I tried to not give her hope, because I knew how long of a shot this was....but you could tell that she wanted to try...."

With thick grass, and all of the debris along a busy highway, finding that small, lost ring wasn't going to be easy.

Dan was just about to lose hope. "There was just a little bit of grass left to search and I was methodically searching and making sure we didn't miss any spot. Then I saw that little bit of the rim of the ring and I knew what it was. When I reached down and saw the fingerprint on the inside of the ring, there was no doubt that that was Lee's ring. To be able to return that ring to her, was something that I'll never forget. I handed the ring over and we both looked at each other and we both got emotional. I could tell how much it meant to her...and that's all that I needed."

Jessica is so grateful to this stranger who stepped up to help her find some closure. "There's times when I just feel really lost and holding this ring...it's just a constant reminder that he loved me and that I'm still connected to him...somehow."

At a time when her life had been torn apart, Jessica could once again hold the symbol of the day she and Lee were joined together. She said, "It's special...and it just means so much that somebody would do that to bring me closer to someone that I lost."

(Click on the links to the right to find out more about Dan Roekle at www.lostandfoundring.com or to contribute to the Steinhorst family's GoFundMe account for Lee and Jessica's children).