CHESAPEAKE, Va. (WAVY) — A ring lost for decades has now been found thanks to a trusty Chesapeake neighbor — and a new gadget he bought himself for Christmas.

Dan Osborne purchased a metal detector off Craigslist. Osborne says he loves gadgets and his longtime neighbor Billie Leigh does too.

So, he decided to show off his latest tool. 

“He pulls out this beautiful metal detector, I’d never seen one like it, it was like a Cadillac,” said Leigh. “I told him he could search my backyard. Whatever he wanted.”

Osborne decided it could be fun to test out his new tool and take Leigh up on her offer.

“I thought I might find some coins or something,” said Osborne. 

However, Leigh joked that her neighbor might find her husband’s wedding ring. After all, her husband Ben lost it 35 years ago while raking leaves. 

Over the decades, she’s searched for the ring many times but without any luck.

“I knew her husband lost the ring many years ago. I even asked her ‘Where do you think it was?’ She said no idea,” said Osborne. 

With that said, Osborne used his “Cadillac” metal detector to explore Leigh’s yard. It took Osborne all of 45 minutes before he heard a loud beeping sound.

Osborne says he knew he was on to something when the sound became louder and louder — perhaps it was a bottle cap, scrap metal or something more meaningful.

Osborne started to dig, and he pulled out his cell phone to record it. 

“I couldn’t believe it,” Osborne said. “I found the ring. It was still packed with mud inside of it but I took it and washed it inside the water in [the] hole and it came out as clean as could be. That’s when I knew, I had to call Miss Billie Leigh.”

At first, Leigh wasn’t sure what her neighbor was up to, but she hurried outside and says she became weak in the knees. 

“When I walked out here, he had that ring, it was like 35 years that it has been lost,” said Leigh.  “What did I feel? I know I cried, I even kissed him on the cheek. I felt like a bowl of jelly. I really did, I shook, because to me this is a miracle.”

Leigh’s husband Ben died 18 years ago after a battle with ALS, or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. She knows Ben guided her neighbor to that ring after all these years. 

“I know he was there with him, he was was a prince of a gentlemen,” said Leigh. “Now when you see me, you will see this ring.”

She says she will wear the ring day in and day out around her neck — where it falls close to heart.  She knows it’s where her prince belongs. 

“In my heart, I know he’s with me, this was one marriage that was meant to be,” said Leigh. “It was a marriage that was meant to be.”

Leigh says next month the couple would have celebrated their 66th wedding anniversary.

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