It's a bittersweet reunion. Joyce Wharton, now 78, had recently married when her parents Hazel and Hugh Armstrong set out on a flight one morning in 1959. "He was a very experienced pilot and they flew that morning out of Portland to Seattle and never arrived," Wharton says. It wasn't until 14 years later, in 1973, that the crash site was found just outside Centralia, Wash., but only Hugh's wallet and a few buttons were recovered. Now, out of the blue, Wharton has been contacted by a logger in Washington who found Hazel's wedding ring in 1997. He sent it to her in New Jersey last week, reports the New York Daily News.
"It was a little small cedar tree and I’m digging in the roots and flipped that ring out," Nick Buchanan tells Fox 40. He'd been hiking in the area when he came across the gold diamond ring, which he says would have been completely covered had the tree grown just a few more years. It took him nearly 20 years to find the couple's daughter, but with his nephew helping do online searches, he finally found Wharton, who's been in New Jersey since 1963. "I never once thought it belonged to me," he says. "I was just hoping that there was a daughter or a family member that I could turn it over to." (One freak plane accident claimed the lives of two expectant fathers earlier this year.)