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Newlywed embraces 13-year-old who found and returned her lost wedding ring

Minnesota newcomer Darnell Sue says the recovery of her ring warmed her heart during her first cold Minnesota winter.

ANOKA, Minn. — Before the glacier-like retreat of what’s felt like the longest winter ever, she arrived.

“Yeah, this is different,” Darnell Sue says with a telling laugh.

“Different” is Darnell’s nice way of saying Anoka, Minnesota is not Seattle, from where she came.

“I think the long periods of cold are sort of getting to me at this point,” Darnell says as she stands outside on a brisk March day that feels more like January.

It was a different cold day last December, on which the gloveless Darnell was photographed next to her husband Jason – her wedding ring visible in the photo.

Credit: Devin Krinke/KARE 11
Darnell Sue and her husband Jason Lindahl.

Not long after, the wedding ring slipped off her finger.

“I didn’t realize that in cold weather your fingers shrink,” Darnell says.

The loss of a wedding ring is bad enough, but Darnell’s ring was a family heirloom, first worn by her great-aunt Melba.

“Even if we did buy another ring, it wouldn’t have the sentiment that this ring has, being passed down from a family member,” Darnell says. “That’s something you can’t buy.”

Making matters worse, Darnell didn’t notice the ring was missing until the next day.

Panic set in as she started mentally retracing her steps through an evening out with friends, walking in downtown Anoka the previous night.

“There’s no way we’re going to find this ring,” she thought. “It’s just not possible. That doesn’t happen.”

Credit: Devin Krinke/KARE 11
Erin Justen, owner Billy’s Bar & Grill, posted on Facebook about Darnell Sue’s lost wedding ring.

In desperation, she messaged the owner of Billy’s Bar and Grill where they’d eaten.

Erin Justen empathized with Darnell.

“I was putting myself in her shoes,” Erin says. “I was almost sick to my stomach for her.”

Erin also considered what it must be like to be a transplant, arriving from a different part of the country.

“Everything is new, you don’t know anybody,” Erin says. “I guess I just kind of wanted to give her that feeling of friendship.”

Erin wrote a plea for help on the Anoka Community Facebook Page. The response exceeded her expectations.

“I really didn’t expect it to blow up like that,” Erin says.

As word spread, everyone in Anoka seemed to be looking for the ring.

Credit: Devin Krinke/KARE 11
Bridget Anderson points to the spot where she found Darnell Sue’s wedding ring

Everyone, but the person who found it: 13-year-old Bridget Anderson.

“I was just kind of walking back and forth looking at my feet and it was right there,” Bridget says.

Bridget had stopped at Anoka’s Independent Grain and Feed store with her mom to buy corn to feed the ducks on the nearby Rum River.

Not far from the mill, Bridget found the ring lying on a sidewalk.

“It was right there, and I picked it up,” Bridget says.

The eighth grader showed the ring to her mom.

“I told her this is a wedding ring. Someone is missing this,” Bridget’s mother, Amy Anderson, says.

Then, Amy and Bridget walked directly to the Anoka Police Department and handed the ring to Keeton Roden. The community service officer happened to have a colleague who’d seen the Billy’s Bar & Grill Facebook post and tipped Captain Andy Youngquist.

“Darnell sent me a picture of the ring,” Youngquist says. “I compared the two and miraculously, it was the ring.”

Darnell says getting her ring back still seems surreal.

“You don’t lose a ring and just get it back,” Darnell says.  

Credit: Devin Krinke/KARE 11
Darnell Sue’s wedding ring is a family heirloom first worn by her great aunt.

The experience has left her thinking differently about this cold place in which she landed.

“Tell you what, if we were in Seattle, we would not be standing here right now,” Darnell says from the sidewalk outside Billy’s. “We would not have that ring back. No way. Nope.”

This brings us to Anoka Middle School for the Arts, just last week.

“Always nervous walking into a school, I don’t know why,” Darnell says as she walks to the school entrance.

Maybe it’s the eighth grader inside that she’s about to meet for the first time.

“Hi,” Darnell says as the 13-year-old shyly enters a conference room. “You must be Bridget.”

The two shake hands. Then, Darnell rewards Bridget with a gift card – good for some cold ice cream – before embracing her with a warm hug.

Credit: Devin Krinke/KARE 11
Darnell Sue hugs Bridget Anderson, who found and returned her wedding ring.

The Seattle-to-Anoka transplant might just stay for a while.

“We did find some warmth in this cold place,” Darnell says “We’re not leaving here. I like this town.”

Boyd Huppert is always looking for great stories to share in the Land of 10,000 Stories! Send us your suggestions by filling out this form.

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