Frank Rinella lost his wedding ring in the Craig area back in 1972. The ring above is his wife Janie's and matches the one he lost.

Courtesy of Janie Rinella

Frank Rinella lost his wedding ring in the Craig area back in 1972. The ring above is his wife Janie's and matches the one he lost.

50 years later, former Craig resident hopes community can help lead him to lost wedding ring

Quotable

“I’ve been going back and forth over it in my mind for years. It sort of gnaws at you.”

Frank Rinella, former Craig resident, about losing his wedding ring in 1972

— It’s a love story 50 years in the making, but with an important missing piece that the Craig community might be able to provide.

Their romance started innocently enough. Frank Rinella and his wife, Janie, first met in college when they found themselves both relying on crutches to get around.

“She had sprained her ankle and I had hurt my knee in a motorcycle accident,” Rinella recalled this week.

After dating for about a year, Frank and Janie tied the knot. Five decades later, Rinella would like nothing more than to celebrate the couple’s golden anniversary by finding the wedding ring he lost while working as a conservation officer in Craig in 1972.

During his three-year stint as a conservation officer, Rinella was in charge of managing a local buffalo herd. One night, a buffalo wandered onto the land of a nearby rancher. Frightened, a sheepherder shot and killed it. After being contacted by the rancher, Rinella went out to salvage the meat from the buffalo.

Rinella said he took off his wedding and class rings to wash his hands in a basin of water. He left his rings in the basin of water, which he later pitched that afternoon.

“It didn’t dawn on me until years and years later what had happened to my rings,” Rinella said. “When it finally dawned on me, I couldn’t remember where this place was. I’m sure the rancher would know.”

The Rinellas now reside in Estes Park after a short stint in Greeley, where Frank worked as a game warden.

With a recent hip replacement, Rinella said it’s difficult to find the time or make the trip to search for his lost rings. And that’s why he’s now asking for the help of the Craig community.

“It’s been bothering me trying to figure out how to find it,” Rinella said. “I threw the water out there in the sagebrush.”

Although he since has replaced the original ring with a simple band, Rinella said he can’t stop thinking about the original wedding ring.

“I’ve been going back and forth over it in my mind for years,” Rinella said. “It sort of gnaws at you.”

The white gold ring had raised silver on its inside, matching Janie’s ring. Frank’s class ring was white gold and a standard class ring from Southern Illinois University. Rinella said the ring featured a black stone and was inscribed with “Class of 66.”

When asked what the wedding ring represented to him, Rinella said with a chuckle, “just our marriage.”

Rinella said Janie wasn’t too happy when she first found out he’d lost his ring, and her immediate thought was, “Well, we’ll never see that again.”

Rinella hopes to prove her wrong. Anyone with information regarding the missing rings or where in Moffat County they might be can call the Craig Daily Press at 970-824-7031.

Darian Warden can be reached at 875-1793 or dwarden@craigdailypress.com

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