COLUMBIA — Lee Hahs fell in love in 1950 at a shirt factory in Farmington.
As the 19-year-old strawberry blonde pressed and folded shirts, she caught the attention of a tall 18-year-old man in the cutting room.
Dale Weiss was quickly invited to come along to the roller rink by her girlfriends. Three months later Dale and Lee married, once Dale learned that he had been drafted into the Army.
As their 25th anniversary approached in 1975, Lee found a stunning gold ring to give to her husband.
Dale wore the ring every day for 38 years, until, on a blustery day last month — he doesn't know where — it slipped off his finger.
The Weisses have been married for 63 years. After their marriage on Aug. 19, 1950, Dale began Army duty in California as a supply sergeant. Lee made a four-day trip by train to meet him; they lived on the West Coast for two years.
In 1954, the couple moved back to St. Louis and raised a son. In 1961, Lee began working in a hair salon. She had always loved doing hair for her friends and family before she earned her license.
Months before the couple's 25th anniversary, she found the perfect gift for her husband in a jewelry store in downtown St. Louis. It was a gold ring, with seven diamonds in a starburst shape. Lee admired it but worried about the cost and mentioned her concern.
“The manager said I could pay what I could for the ring, when I could,” she said. For nine months, she faithfully paid the jeweler until it was hers.
On the evening of their wedding anniversary, Lee and Dale joined their son and daughter-in-law for dinner. During the meal, Lee brought out the box with the ring.
Dale was thrilled. He put it on the ring finger of his right hand.
Life in Columbia
In 1998, the Weisses moved to Columbia to be closer to family. Lee had retired from hairdressing and Dale from working in maintenance in the Fox School District.
They now live in the southwest part of town with their Pomeranian, San San. Dale loves to fish, and Lee makes ceramic figurines — she specializes in ducks. Together they have traveled the world — Costa Rica, Germany, Greece, Alaska, Canada and Mexico.
On Jan. 9, the couple went out for lunch at Steak 'n Shake on Worley Street. They stopped at the Phillips 66 gas station, then headed to Walmart on Broadway.
Dale took his gloves off a couple times that day to shake a friend’s hand, to eat his lunch and handle the groceries. By the time he got home, the ring was gone.
Search for the ring
Within a week, their granddaughter had posted an ad on Craigslist to try and locate the ring:
"My grandfather lost the ring that my grandmother gave him for their 25th anniversary. They have been married for 63 years. My grandmother was a hairdresser and had to save tips and wages for a whole year to buy the ring as a special present.
"My grandfather lost it on Saturday, January 11, 2014. It is a gold ring with seven diamonds in a starburst shape. ... I would really love to help him find this as it means a great deal to him. Thanks for any help you can offer."
Dale has retraced his steps and told countless employees at the businesses about the missing ring. The family has checked local lost-and-found sites and pawn shops to locate it. An email account, firstname.lastname@example.org, has been created to solicit information about the ring.
“The ring means a lot to me,” Dale said. “It holds memories – Lee getting it for me, and then having it for so long.”
He said he's worried that whoever finds the ring won’t be aware of its sentimental value.
“I’m afraid whoever finds it won’t turn it in,” said Dale. “He won’t know what it’s worth.”
Their granddaughter, Jayne Woods, understands how upset he is about the ring.
“My grandfather was so devastated when he lost the ring,” she said. “He doesn’t show much emotion, but I know he was devastated.”
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