The day of Bryce and Kenzie Williams’ wedding, the groom was so nervous at the church he forgot the bride’s diamond ring, so he called his younger brother.
Could Corbin Williams, who was also his best man, bring the ring? No problem. He stopped by Bryce and Kenzie’s central Tacoma place and picked it up.
And accidentally dropped it in the middle of the street.
“At that point, I hadn’t even seen the ring,” Kenzie said. “We went through the ceremony without it.”
Trevor Braaten was running late that day, Dec. 29, and was taking his 11-year-old son, Chase, to a belated Christmas visit with Braaten’s grandparents.
Braaten has two jobs — at Stadium Thriftway, where he’s worked 16 years as a cashier, and a side job delivering Mission food products. He lives next door to his parents. He’s what used to be called a straight arrow.
“About five houses down from my house there was a little plastic bag in the middle of the street,” Braaten said. “I went by it, stopped and backed up. I picked it up and handed it to my son. He opened it and said, ‘Whoa, Dad — Is this real?’”
It certainly looked real. And dazzling.
“It was in a little white box from Kay Jewelers,” Braaten said.
Braaten called the shop at the Tacoma Mall, told them what he’d found and asked if they had any way of knowing who it belonged to. An employee said they didn’t. Braaten told the employee that if anyone came looking for the ring, he had it. He left his Steele Street address.
Braaten went online and found the ring on a Kay website. It sold for about $5,000, although when taxes, insurance and other charges were added, the final figure was closer to $6,000.
“My son wanted to pawn it,” Braaten said. “But he is 11.”
Braaten went door to door around the neighborhood, asking if anyone had lost a ring. No one had.
He watched lost-and-found ads on Craigslist. Nothing matched.
The newly wedded couple, meanwhile, had embarked on their honeymoon.
“We went to Puerto Rico and had a wonderful time,” 24-year-old Kenzie Williams said. “We talked about the ring a few times and pretty much figured it was lost.”
When they returned home, 26-year-old Bryce Williams visited Kay Jewelers on Jan. 12 to ask if the insurance on the ring covered losing it. It did not.
But a female clerk overheard the conversation and remembered the story of a man who found a ring.
She didn’t know his name, didn’t know his address.
“I told them I knew he lived on Steele Street,” she said. “He said, ‘So do we!’”
Corbin Williams had posters printed up offering a reward and was going to paper the Steele Street neighborhood. But first, he and his brother and the ringless Kenzie walked across the street to the only neighbors they’d met.
“We told them the story and Corbin showed them a picture of the ring, and they told us a man had been asking if anyone had lost jewelry,” Kenzie said. “We asked where he lived, and they pointed and said ‘Right there.’”
The trio knocked on Braaten’s front door, he answered, and Corbin Williams explained the whole sad story.
“When Corbin finished, Trevor just said, ‘Yeah, I have it in the back, I’ll go get it.’” Kenzie recalled.
And her brother-in-law, suddenly off the hook for losing a $6,000 ring?
“Corbin dropped to the floor.”
He was back on his feet by the time Braaten returned with the ring, still in its box.
“The bride was excited, but the brother-in-law was jumping up and down and gave me a hug,” Braaten said. “They asked me if I wanted a reward. I said no. They were a young couple, just married, and they lived like five houses down from me.
“I remember how tight money could be when you’re just married.”
Bryce and Kenzie Williams and their best man raced home, where the groom took the ring from its box and placed it on his wife’s hand.
“I was overwhelmed,” she said. “It was beautiful.”
How does she feel about Trevor Braaten?
“It’s rare and amazing to find someone honest enough to keep a ring and then not ask for anything in return,” she said. “The fact that it was a neighbor? That’s even more amazing.”
As for Braaten, he thinks he set a good example for his son.
“I never found anything like that before,” he said. “But we did the right thing.”
Larry LaRue: 253-597-8638