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Courtesy of Sonya Davis

Carol Bussey proudly displays the class ring of her deceased son, Charles Tyus, who died unexpectedly two years after his high school graduation.

Carol Bussey burst into tears, overcome at the sight of her son’s long missing 1993 Thomson High School class ring, presented to her last week nearly 30 years after he graduated.

As she was helped to a chair, she took the ring in her hands, clutched it to her chest and bowed her head for a moment before putting it on the first finger of her left hand. 

The ring had been missing since Bussey’s son, Charles Tyus, died during a pickup basketball game on the campus of the University of Spartanburg in South Carolina in 1995. Tyus was stung by a bee, reportedly for the second time in recent memory, collapsed and died of cardiac arrest.

“So, we lost him,” Bussey said in a phone interview with The McDuffie Progress. “That was a very hard time.”

Tyus’ ring had been missing since.

Flash forward nearly 30 years.

A Florida couple who haul cars for a living — Walter and Joanne — arrived in the Orlando, FL, area to pick up vehicles and haul them to Savannah for overseas shipment. When they opened the doors of a black Nissan Altima circa 2015-18, Joanne found the ring just sitting on the seat. 

“It was amazing that it was just sitting there,” said Walter. The couple took the ring home with them. When they looked up the school and name on the ring, they learned Charles’ story.

“As soon as we read the story, we knew we had to get it back to where it belonged,” Walter said. “So, we helped get the ring back in the right hands.”

The couple called Thomson High School where their call was directed to Sonya Davis in the guidance office. She then set about trying to locate Bussey. 

It took some doing. 

Charles’ mother had moved from Thomson to Augusta, so she was not readily found. Davis eventually connected with Sharro Wilson, Charles’ high school sweetheart, and that connection proved to be key. 

“She’s just like my daughter. She's married now with a beautiful family and everything,” said Bussey of Wilson. “I'm so proud of her and she keeps in touch.”

Although Walter and Joanne had pledged to ship the ring to Bussey, Davis asked that it be sent to her instead so that she, Wilson and Charles’ best buddy, Alfonso Collins, could present it to Charles’ mother in person, which they did about a week ago.

“I never thought I’d get it back, but he (Walter) felt like it had to get back to me. I don’t know how it wound up in Florida in a wrecked vehicle. It’s a mystery to me. But the gentleman who found it said he knew it was special,” Bussey said. “I cannot thank them enough for having that heart and that spirit to get it back to me.”

Shortly after Charles died, Bussey learned her son and a young woman he knew at college were to become parents, something Charles never had a chance to tell his mother. Since the day her granddaughter was born, Bussey has been able to grow a relationship with a living legacy of her son.

Bussey now wears Charles’ 1993 THS class ring it around her neck on a chain she received as a Christmas gift from her granddaughter two years ago. 

“She looks exactly like him. She’s a blessing and a comfort to me,” said Bussey. “Everything has now come full circle."