EAGLE, Colo. (AP) — Virtue may be its own reward, but the chance to stay at an exclusive mountain development while on a Colorado ski vacation isn’t bad, either.

That’s what Mark Epple of Minneapolis and his family received this Christmas for returning a valuable diamond ring he found at the Eagle County airport last February on his way home from skiing. The ring was a 12-carat yellow diamond Roger Ward had crafted for his wife, Janis, to commemorate their 30th wedding anniversary.

The couple didn’t realize Janis Ward had lost the ring in the hurry of catching a plane until they reached their home in Miami.

“It was something that she cherished,” Roger Ward said of the ring.

Airline and airport employees searched the ramps, parking lot and baggage area after the Wards contacted them, Eagle County spokeswoman Kris Friel said.

Epple and his wife, Karen, were flying out of the Eagle County airport when he spotted something shiny next to the curb. He put what he assumed was costume jewelry in his pocket, and looked at it closer at home.

Figuring the ring was valuable, Epple called the airport and discovered that the Wards were looking for it.

A Brinks courier delivered the ring to Miami, where the original jeweler made some structural repairs. All the diamonds were intact.

The Wards offered Epple a reward, which he declined. He said he saw the incident as a learning experience for his three children.

“You try to teach them the right thing,” Epple said. “If you return something that belongs to somebody else, you shouldn’t expect to have rewards.”

Roger Ward, however, called Epple’s honesty “extraordinary.” After talking to him, Ward discovered that Epple, an architect who had been laid off, was passionate about skiing in Colorado. He offered the Epples a chance to stay in the Wards’ part-time home in Cordillera, an upscale mountain development near the Vail and Beaver Creek ski resorts.

The Epples and a couple of family friends arrived for their ski vacation Dec. 26.

WCCO-TV’s James Schugel Reports

(© Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

Comments (13)
  1. rj says:

    This is the type of legacy more parents should leave for their kids.

  2. Joe Egan says:

    Good for you, Mark. And good luck with the job hunt. I’ll share this many old friends who won’t be surprised. Best wishes for 2011.

  3. Peter VanV says:

    Atta boy, Mark — always knew you were a good kid!

  4. Stratton says:

    very inspiring, Mark. Integrity in spades. All the best to you and your family.

  5. paab says:

    Nice story, hope they enjoy their va-ca.

  6. Billy says:

    Finally some good news, good story, about time…

  7. Really? says:

    Loved the example you showed your kids…about not expecting a reward. Hopefully they will become just as good as citizens as their pops. All the best.

  8. Schwing says:

    Way to go LME! Hope you had a great vacation!

  9. Rosemary K. says:

    Mark and Karen – Good for you! This is not surprising!

  10. Sally says:

    Mark: This is the most rewarding story I have heard in years. May you and your family has God’s speed always. We need more Americans in this world with your intrigity.

  11. Linda C says:

    What an uplifting story………….you did the right thing, of course!! Hopefully there is an architectural firm out there looking for an architect who reads this story and puts this honest man to work.

    The reward for returning something lost by another person (valuable or not) is that someday you may be in the same situation, losing what to you is a very important item and in turn the finder gives it back to you. This lesson will not be lost on your children who are very lucky to have such parents!

  12. Dianne says:

    Mark Epple !! I met you when you were a very cute little boy. I met you at your Mom and Dad’s when I was visiting there with your Aunt Myrt. Your folks are very good, honest folks. I am glad to see that honesty rubbed off….That’s what happens when you grow up in the Midwest….: )

  13. Anthony Elwood-Devenuta says:

    Seriously…..? how many of us would have given that ring up? Its like a guy finds a million dollars in a brief case…what does he do… he calls the Police to turn it in? I have to admit, that would be hard, and faced with my children as witnesses, I would be hard pressed not to. Or, I might have looked at it as… “God’s will was for me to find this, for whatever reason, even personal gain….”

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