A man found a class ring in Old Orchard Beach while using his metal detector. Now it's on its way back to its rightful owner. Credit: CBS 13

A man metal-detecting in Old Orchard Beach came across a class ring missing for nearly 40 years.

For the last 44 years, Frederick Thibodeau, 77, has spent countless hours sifting through the sand.

“I used to spend almost eight hours a day, but now I spend about three and it’s about all I can do to walk back to my truck,” Thibodeau said. “If I had to guess, I’d probably say I’ve found 20 different rings in this area.”

As the tide was going out, Thibodeau found a class ring from the Medford High School Class of 1984.

“I went right home, cleaned it up so I could read the inscription and the next morning I called the high school in Medford, and they said they’d get in touch with the alumni and see if he’s still in the area and we’d go from there,” Thibodeau said.

A few weeks later, he was able to talk to the owner, Jonathan.

“He described the ring and he was very elated,” Thibodeau said. “He said, ‘I never in the slightest chance … ever thought I’d ever see that ring again,’ and I know that sentimental value. When you got a high school class ring or a college class ring, there’s a lot of sentimental value there.”

Now the ring is on its way to being returned to its rightful owner.

“That’s exciting,” Thibodeau said. “That’s exciting when you can help somebody like that. That’s why I like to hang in here during the summer months when all the people are here, because there’s always someone losing something and always somebody coming up and asking you, ‘Can you help us find this?’”

Thibodeau has no plans of slowing down anytime soon.

“My guess is they’ll probably find me down here face down in the sand,” Thibodeau said. “As long as the good lord lets me, he’s in charge,”

Thibodeau said the ring’s owner lost it when he was a senior in high school while on vacation in Maine. His girlfriend had been wearing it on a chain around her neck at the time.

He didn’t even have it for a month, and never thought he would see it again.