Couple celebrates 35th anniversary with ring that was lost for 25 years

By  | 

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WCAV) -- Selden and Mabel Tilman are two lovebirds who met at a party in Charlottesville, Virginia in June of 1981.

Mabel played a little hard to get at first, but couldn't resist Selden's charm. Nine months later, Selden, 25 years old, and Mabel, 44, tied the knot with a 19-year age difference.

"She taught me things I wasn't taught before," said Seldon.

"Well, he didn't eat well at all," Mabel jokingly interrupted. "Sometimes guys don't eat well." Selden piped up saying, "Burgers and fries are OK!"

Burgers and fries are some of the food Selden whipped up in the 1970s and 80s at Ken Jonson's Cafeteria.

"I was washing dishes and next thing I know, I didn't have no ring," said Selden.

Barely married six months and the newlywed's ring was gone. Selden was washing dishes at work when the ring slipped off.

"She told me not to take it to work and I lost it that same day," said Selden.

Fast forward 25 years to 2008, Ken Jonson's Cafeteria closed and is now Ben & Jerry's. Crews were cleaning out the pipes in the ice cream shop and stumbled across something glistening.

"He was showing me the stuff he pulled out and sure enough, there was a gold wedding band in a handful of rusty old silverware," said Ben & Jerry's owner Doug Barrese.

Barrese reported it to the shopping center manager who just happened to be there the same day Selden reported it missing back in 1982.

"The rarity of allowing someone to get something so precious back," said Barrese. "It needed to be a special moment."

Once they realized Selden still worked nearby at the Harris Teeter, they had the ring cleaned and returned it in a very emotional, heart-touching moment.

"Everybody was either crying or pretending not to be crying in that moment," said Barrese.

Fast forward to March 20, 2017. The happy couple will celebrate 35 years of marriage with the same ring with which they started.

"Being honest, good communication and able to be on the same level is key," said Mabel. "Also going out and having fun."

"Each morning, I wake up and I'm very thankful that I have her in my heart for 35 years," said Selden. "She's been my lover, my teacher and my friend."

A friendship of more than three decades filled with laughter and love, these two plan on hitting the town for a nice meal to celebrate.

Read the original version of this article at