Mystery of 1942 wedding ring found in Echo gets happy ending

1942 wedding ring returned to family

Annette Sharp and her grandson Austin Worsham, 13, returned a 1942 wedding ring to Ray Jackson, Jr.

Melinda Martinez, Wochit

A 79-year-old wedding ring is back with its rightful family.

On Saturday, Annette Sharp of St. Helena Parish and her grandson, Austin Worsham, 13, met Ray Jackson Jr. of Grayson in Pineville to return the ring.

Jackson is the nephew of the late Charles W. and Lucille Jackson Shultz to whom the ring belongs.

Sharp hoped that sharing the story of an engraved 1942 wedding band found in her mother’s house would help her find the family who owned it originally and return a piece of their history. The Town Talk published the story in October.

There were a few twists and turns before determining and finding who the ring should go to. The Shultzes are deceased.

Lucille left all her possessions to Jackson. 

“Lucille was my daddy’s sister,” he said.

Jackson said it was very noble for Sharp to go to the trouble of finding family members to return the ring. “And to want to return the ring to the family. I think that kind of speaks for itself on what kind of person Mrs. Sharp is.”

Sharp was clearing out 60 years’ worth of stuff at her mother’s house in Echo when Austin discovered the ring mixed in with a bunch of coins in a plastic bag.

How it all started: Woman seeks to return 1942 wedding band to owner’s family

The ring is engraved with the initials “CWS” and “LJS” and the marriage date is 12-4-42.

Before finding out about the Shultzes, Sharp assumed the last letter of the initials was an “L.” Many families in Echo have last names that start with “L,” so Sharp thought it could belong to the Lacombes, Lamberts or Lachneys.

“I looked at the initials on there and I got with all of our family historians, if you will, and nobody could place that with a family member,” said Sharp in a previous interview.

A niece of Lucille’s second husband, Lewell Autrey, who lives in Pineville, saw an article about the ring in The Town Talk and called him. He then connected with Sharp. 

Maynard Dean of Shreveport helped solve the ring’s mystery. He found a marriage announcement in The Town Talk archives along with another article from 1985 about a vehicle accident in which Charles was killed and Lucille severely injured.

Charles and Lucille were married in a single-ring ceremony on Dec. 4, 1942, at 1227 Magnolia St., Alexandria.

This year would have marked the couple’s 79th wedding anniversary.

Couple loved friends, family, fishing

Sharp talked to Jackson and Lucille’s daughter-in-law Vicki Ann Suire to gather some information about the couple.

Charles was a sergeant in the U.S. Army stationed at Fort Livingston. He was born on May 15, 1920 in Berwick, Penn. to John and Thelma Shultz. He was one of five children with the others being Faye, Dale, Helen and James. All have died. 

Lucille Pauline Jackson was born Jan. 15, 1915 in Little Rock, Ark., to Wayne E. Jackson Sr. and Hattie Jackson. Lucille had three brothers: Richard,Wayne Jr., and Ray. The family moved to Alexandria when Lucille was a young girl.

Charles met Lucille at a USO dance. It wasn’t long after they met that they were married, said Charles left for World War II soon after.  

“They hurried up to get married before he left,” she said.

They had one son, John Wayne Shultz, Suire’s late husband, who died in 1990. John Wayne and Suire had no children.

“They were totally, totally committed to each other,” said Suire. “They loved me just as much as they loved John Wayne. They were some good people. You couldn’t have found better people. They treated me almost better than they treated their son.”

After Charles returned from WWII, they moved to the Groves area which is by Port Arthur/Beaumont, Texas; Charles worked for Gulf Oil Refinery as an operator.

Jackson’s father, Ray Sr., also worked there as a welder.

Jackson grew up with his cousin John Wayne in Groves as the families lived a street apart. They would get together regularly for barbecues or have Saturday or Sunday dinners together.

The Shultzes, particularly Lucille, loved to fish and did most of her fishing with John Wayne and Vicki at Sabine Lake in Port Arthur, Texas. They would fish for specks, redfish, drum, sheepshead — anything that was in the lake.

“Lucille could have fished from daylight to dark,” recalls Suire. “And she loved white perch fishing the most. I used to call her ‘Miss Perch.’

“That’s what I called her,” she said. “Nobody else did but me.”

The Shultzes liked to go dancing and out for nice dinners, said Suire; or sometimes go to the movies.

They also bought and regularly used a travel trailer. Suire said she and John Wayne would join them for weekends in places like Harlingen, Texas; Colorado or  Las Vegas. The Shultzes also visited Dam B at the Sam Rayburn Reservoir in East Texas or Toledeo Bend to camp and fish.

“They had a lot of friends,” said Suire. “They’d go camping with some of their friends sometimes.”

They went on jaunts with two other couples who also had travel trailers. Suire said they’d all park together, have weenie roasts by the campfire and eat the fish they caught that day. 

Wreck killed Charles, left Lucille severely injured

On Nov. 19, 1985, Lucille and Charles were driving to Ferriday to attend her father’s funeral. 

A Town Talk article about the wreck states that Charles died in an accident on Highway 28 East “near the turnoff to Esler Regional Airport.” Another car crossed the center line and hit them head on. Charles was 65. Lucille, then 70, had a broken femur and was critically injured. She was hospitalized in the ICU of an Alexandria hospital. 

John Wayne and Suire had friends drive to Alexandria to stay with Lucille while they went to Port Arthur to bury Charles.

After they returned to Alexandria, Lucille was transported via helicopter to Saint Mary’s Hospital in Beaumont, Texas, where she had surgery to repair her femur. She was able to leave after several weeks and continued her recovery at John Wayne and Suire’s home. She was told by doctors that she would never walk again. After intensive therapy, she proved them wrong.

Lucille remarried in 1997 to Lewell Autrey, her high school sweetheart. They became reacquainted after attending a reunion.

Lucille and Lew lived in Shreveport and also had a camp at Toledo Bend. Like Lucille, Lew loved to fish. They even drove to Alaska for a fishing trip when they were in their 80s.

As they got older, they moved into an assisted living facility in Beaumont. Lew died before Lucille, who lived to be 104. She died in 2019 and is buried next to Charles in Groves.

Unsolved mystery still has happy ending

How the ring ended up in Echo will always remain a mystery. Those who know the reason are gone.

Sharp thinks the 14k gold ring was used to barter or borrow from her maternal grandparents.

Her oldest daughter, whom she says is clairvoyant, wore the ring and told Sharp that it didn’t belong to any of their family members and was used to barter.

In a vision, her daughter reportedly saw two women having a conversation and a man in the background telling one of the women, “Yes, it’s okay to do it.”

Neither Jackson nor Suire knew about the engraved wedding band, which apparently was the first ring. Charles and Lucille both had other wedding bands that they wore.

“When I was in the family, Charlie had a gold band with four big diamonds in it,” said Surie. “That was his wedding ring.”

Lucille wore two rings. The engagement ring had one big stone and two little stones while the wedding band had four or five round stones to match. 

“And that way the typical style wedding ring in the 1940s and 1950s,” Suire said.

Some people would upgrade their wedding rings later in life when they could afford to do so, and it’s assumed that’s what the Shultzes did.

Jackson said he was with Lucille quite a bit in her later years and never spoke about the ring.

“That’s kind of an interesting story,” he said. “There’s no telling how that story transpired in regard to the ring,” said Jackson. 

As far as the ring goes, he felt it was Sharp’s to do with as she wanted since the ring had been left with her family. 

Sharp and Jackson talked about the ring and speculated how Sharp’s family ended up with the ring.

Now, by returning the legacy to the rightful family, Sharp has the happy ending that she had hoped for.