Treasure-hunting Medford wins Aloha Spirit Award

PO’IPU – Near the scene of some of his greatest discoveries, Kalaheo’s “Dutch”

Medford last week added the 2000 Kaua’i Chamber of Commerce Aloha Spirit Award

to his collection.

Did we say “collection?” Actually, the former police

officer Medford, who uses a waterproof metal detector to uncover lost

treasures, goes to even greater lengths to return found items to their rightful

owners.

He has uncovered nearly $500,000 worth of lost jewelry and coins,

and returned most of that to the owners.

One of those owners happens to be

the grandson of former U.S. Pres. Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

When Del and

Jan Roosevelt came to Kaua’i on vacation last year, Del Roosevelt lost a

500-year-old family heirloom ring off his finger while pulling wife Jan out of

dangerous waters at Po’ipu.

Medford’s services were recruited three days

later, but the search was unsuccessful, and Roosevelt went home without the

ring. Medford searched for the ring two days a week for five months, but didn’t

get discouraged.

Then one day, aiming his metal detector at a large rock in

the vicinity where the ring was originally lost, Medford got a faint signal.

Then he spotted the gold band, at last uncovering the treasured heirloom with

three roses on its crest.

It had been lodged in about 20 inches of

sand.

Medford can be seen on The Discovery Channel as the hero of a feature

produced by Los Angeles-based Andrew Solt Productions. The show, “Hunt for

Amazing Treasure,” documented one of Medford’s most famous finds.

The

heirloom, which had come from Holland to the United States in the 1500s, was

eventually passed on to the nation’s 32nd President, Franklin Delano

Roosevelt.

When President Roosevelt died in 1945, the ring went to his

oldest son, James. According to family tradition, the ring was passed from

oldest son to oldest son.

Talking about the find on the television show,

Del Roosevelt said, “If it were me, I’d probably keep the stuff I find. You

know, ‘finders keepers, losers weepers.’ This guy returns everything. And he

goes to great lengths to try to find people.”

Medford never charges for his

services. “It’s not the monetary value of the rings so much as it is the

sentimental value that brings people to tears over their loss and recovery,” he

said.

For more than a decade, Medford has used his hobby to recover lost

treasures and return them to their owners, both residents and visitors

alike.

He figures he has retrieved some $487,000 in jewelry and coins from

the ocean floor. But he isn’t storing up treasures for a rainy day. Most of it

has been returned to the original owners. And with an 80 percent recovery rate,

Medford’s services are gaining a reputation.

Mamo Cummings, Chamber

president, gave Medford his award, on behalf of Bill Blackburn, chair of the

Chamber Events and Activities Committee; and on behalf of the entire Chamber

board and membership.

Medford won a plaque, $50 gift certificate, and

dinner for two compliments of JJ’s Broiler.

Medford thanked his wife for

her support of his efforts while accepting the award. Gregg Gardiner nominated

him for the honor, handed to Medford by Cummings and Barbara Bennett, the 1999

Aloha Spirit Award winner, at the Chamber’s quarterly membership dinner at the

Sheraton Kaua’i Resort here.

“Your aloha spirit is truly an inspiration to

us all,” said Matt Takata, Chamber board chairman.

Medford joined,

according to Bennett, a long list of Kauaians who care, who share, and who give

aloha at work, at play, at home and at school. Bennett’s idol is Mayor Maryanne

Kusaka. “To me, she is the epitome of Aloha,” Bennett said of Kusaka.

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