A Long Way Home
Incredible tales of
lost-and-found class rings
In all the excitement surrounding
the Virginia Tech class ring tradition,
there is a sad,
Some rings lose their way.
Some rings come back home, though.
These are their stories.
A Long Way Home
Incredible tales of
lost-and-found class rings
by Charlie Masencup '92
It is interesting that when we are very young, or very old, that half-years count when telling one's age. So it was with my 102-and-a-half-year-old grandfather, T.J. Horne (agriculture '34), who died in April 2015. His funeral, far from a sad affair, was a celebration of his life. He had plenty of closure at his age, telling each of us for the past several years that it might be his last time seeing us. Inevitably, it would be true. The sad part is that you don't know what you don't know. Hours could be passed easily in silence. Utterly sharp until the very end, but not talkative by nature, T.J. rarely offered conversation.
Because I was born two generations removed from the Greatest Generation, the gap between us was significant. I wondered what he must have thought of youth and the state of our country today, given what he was born into in 1912: a rural Southwest Virginia farming family with no plumbing, no car, and no TV, in a country still showing wounds from the Civil War and about to enter World War I, the Great Depression, and World War II, in which he would serve.
There are many fascinating stories begging to be told about my grandfather's life that will never be heard, save for this story about a ring. Not one ring, but three generations of Virginia Tech class rings.
Once, in a conversation around the kitchen table while we admired what is left of my grandfather's well-worn Virginia Polytechnic Institute (today's Virginia Tech) Class of 1934 ring, he revealed that he had lost the ring for several years. During his tenure from 1949 to 1969 as a professor and later associate dean at the College of Agriculture, T.J. raised his family on Draper Road, where his house was bordered by a large, open field that he cultivated with orchards and gardens, as was his passion. While gardening, T.J. somehow lost his ring. A few years later, he was again digging in his garden and heard a metallic "tink" as the shovel struck something: He had found his ring, and he ran inside to enthusiastically share the news with his family.
My father, Wallace Masencup (business administration '64), met my mother, Margaret Horne, T.J.'s daughter, on a blind date. After being married in the Blacksburg United Methodist Church, my parents moved to Amherst, Virginia, and started a family.
It came as a surprise to no one that I would attend Virginia Tech, even if some may have been surprised that I actually graduated from the Pamplin College of Business in 1992. As various jobs took me to different locales, I landed for a while in Worcester, Massachusetts. I lived in a little lake house, one that required extensive renovations. I did much of the work myself and wouldn't wear my ring while working. Over a period of several months, multiple work crews also helped out. Before the renovations were complete, I took a job in South Carolina. And while I didn't necessarily suspect foul play — more blaming my own absent-mindedness — I found myself dispossessed of my ring.
Four years later, my home phone in Charleston, South Carolina, rang. Verifying my identity, a Worcester police detective asked if I was missing a class ring — one that had been found on a "crackhead," he said, and the police had suspected that the ring didn't belong to him. A few days later, I received a small, square, brown box, one that I shook to hear the sound of a heavy "clink" from inside. I was grateful to be reunited with my missing ring, which I promptly washed thoroughly.
I saved the best, the most incredulous story for last.
Before moving to Amherst, my father was horsing around in the New River one summer day when he lost his Class of 1964 ring. He knew it right away, but he had no luck in recovering it. As was the custom, his name and hometown, "Wallace Edwin Masencup III, Amherst, VA," were engraved inside the ring.
You may know that the New River is one of the few rivers that flows north. Just like me, my dad received his ring some years later in the mail — from a West Virginia address. At the time, all you needed was the name and town, and a piece of mail could be delivered. A note accompanying the ring explained the unbelievable story. While fishing in the New River near his West Virginia home, a man had caught a large fish (some variety of bass, I think). While cleaning it, his knife slit down the belly of the fish and yielded that same metallic "tink" sound. Out came my father's ring.
I'm guessing that he washed it like I did. The ring's formerly sharp features now have the same well-worn blur that my grandfather's ring exhibits, but I'm unsure how much of the polishing occurred while the ring tumbled — or swam — 100 or so miles downstream.
To her credit, my sister, Kristi Masencup (English '96), maintains a tight hold on her ring.
Charlie Masencup (management '92) lives in Charleston, South Carolina.
Up for sale
by Laura Wedin '84
My colleague Shirley Fleet sent me an email from someone who had found a stolen 1968 class ring on propertyroom.com, an auction site that sells property that police confiscate. I found a picture of the ring on the site and could see a portion of a last name, "...attingly," and a portion of the hometown, "…nd, Va." I checked our alumni database and found Paul Mattingly (biological sciences '68). I emailed and called him, leaving a message. I then emailed the website, and a customer service representative responded and asked to have Paul contact them.
Meanwhile, I hadn't heard back from Paul. I had nearly given up hope and saw that the ring was going to be sold. With an hour and 15 minutes left in the auction, Paul called. His hometown had been Richmond. The auction representative soon agreed that the ring was probably Paul's, and the item was pulled from the auction. He had lost the ring about 18 months earlier and had it replaced with a new one. He was thrilled to know he was going to get the original back.
Laura Wedin (M.F.A. theatre arts '84) is the Alumni Association's director of alumni/student programs.
A horticulturist, naturally
by Richard W. Frye
In the late '80s, I purchased a plant from a dealer in North Carolina. When I removed the plant from its plastic pot, a ring fell out of the dirt at the bottom of the plant. I washed the ring off and saw that it was from Virginia Polytechnic Institute. The name engraved inside was Charles Lawrence Legg Jr., Class of 1982. I called the school, but the lady I spoke to courteously but firmly said that the records of past students could not be given out and she could not help me locate Charles. I tossed the ring into a jewelry box and went back to work.
I have been divorced and remarried and have moved four times. In 2005, I was cleaning out some old junk and came across the ring. I had not seen it in years. Since I was forced into learning about computers to continue my real estate business, I decided to see what information the computer would give. I found that the university home page had a lost-and-found link.
Richard W. Frye, a resident of Pinehurst, North Carolina, spoke with the Alumni Association's Shirley Fleet, who located and called Charles Lawrence Legg Jr. (horticulture '82). After much laughter, Legg asked if his ring had been found in North Carolina. The summer after he graduated from Tech, while working in landscaping, Legg had lost the ring that his grandmother had purchased for him. This tale is excerpted from a 2005 email received by the Alumni Association.
by Larry Williams '70
In July 1973, as a struggling young couple who had not been able to take a real honeymoon, my wife and I drove to Cape Cod for a week of vacation. While we were there, we visited Marconi Beach to swim and picnic. After discovering that I wasn't hardy enough to swim very long in the 54-degree water, we decided to take a walk along the beach.
Since the shoreline was rocky, I began picking up stones and skipping them in the surf. I was wearing my class ring (like a dummy), oblivious to the fact that the cool water had shrunk my fingers. You get the picture. Yes, the next experience was the sensation of a weight, other than the stone, leaving my hand and heading into the surf. In a panic, I dove toward where the ring plopped into the water, groping and trying in vain to see through the pounding surf, hoping to catch a glimpse of the ring. After 10 minutes of bone-numbing chill as I thrashed in the water, I gave up. The ring was gone, and all I could do was hope to replace it one day.
I was crushed because, as all Virginia Tech graduates know, the rings are a symbol of the sweat equity we invested in our degrees, as well as a visible, lasting reminder of our experiences at Tech. I languished without the ring for three years before contacting the ring manufacturer and having a new ring made. The new ring matched the original order, except it was a half-size smaller to prevent a recurrence of the ring-tossing event. I wore the replacement ring proudly, retelling the story of my stupid rock-and-ring tossing many times, never once thinking I'd see my original ring again.
In early September 2005, Shirley Fleet at the Alumni Association wrote to say that someone had emailed the association claiming to have found my 1970 ring. I was so amazed that I read the letter several times to make sure I hadn't misunderstood it. I phoned Shirley the next day, and she gave me an email address for Les Hegyi, a Canadian.
The next day on the phone with Les, I learned that he had found my ring in the surf on that Cape Cod beach the same summer I had lost it, in 1973—when he was three years old. He was on vacation with his parents, who went to Cape Cod each summer because it was near their home outside Montreal. Les had seen something sparkly in the pebbly surf as he walked along the shore with his parents. He picked up my ring and took it home, where he played with it as a young boy. As he grew up, he forgot about it—until a couple of years ago when he was looking in a shoebox of childhood things that his parents had kept. Inside the ring, he saw my name and hometown, and he contacted the university. He was unable to find anyone to help him locate the owner, so he put the ring away. This summer [in the mid-2000s], he came across the ring again and tried to contact Tech again. On the website, he found several articles about the return of lost rings, and so he contacted the Alumni Association. His persistence finally put him in touch with Shirley.
After we talked, Les sent the ring to me. Thanks to his unselfishness, honesty, and persistence, I now have my 1970 class ring to wear. He wanted nothing in return, other than the satisfaction of seeing the ring back in the possession of its rightful owner. I can't thank Les enough for what he did to return my ring, but I certainly can share the story with other Tech graduates who may have misplaced or lost their class ring and think there is no way they'll ever see it again. I'm proof that neither international boundaries nor the span of more than 30 years are enough to keep a Tech ring from finding its way back to its owner.
Larry Williams (statistics '70) wrote this account of his lost-and-found class ring in 2006.
"Where have you been?"
The late Paul Brantley Jr. (agricultural engineering '51) was so proud of his class ring that he wore it even before the Ring Dance. After graduation, he wore the garnet ring to Germany, where he was stationed until 1954. When Brantley returned and went into farming in Ivor, Virginia, he began wearing the ring only on special occasions.
In 1957, the ring disappeared. He and Frances, his wife, searched everywhere, including a vacation spot on the James River. No luck.
In 1997, 40 years later, Brantley received a surprising phone call. Michelle Mutter, of Deep Creek, Virginia, had found the ring while tilling her garden. Deep Creek is about 40 miles away and not connected to Ivor by any waterway. Brantley's name and hometown of Ivor were still barely visible on the inside.
How his class ring ended up in a town where Brantley had never set foot will probably remain a mystery. Brantley didn't wear the ring much after recovering it because it fit only on his pinkie.
During the years the ring was missing, Brantley told himself, "It's just a material thing. I graduated, so it doesn't make any difference. I have the diploma to prove it." But Brantley was glad to have the ring back. In the late '90s, he said, "I keep it on top of my chest of drawers where I can see it once in a while and ask, 'Where have you been?'"
This story is excerpted from the spring 1998 edition of Virginia Tech Magazine.
by Charles "Chuck" Cox '73
A couple of years after graduation, I was at a picnic at the Peaks of Otter picnic area. Before lunch, several of us began throwing a frisbee around. I decided to try a long throw and flung the disk as hard as I could. The disk flew out of my hands, along with my class ring. The disk went several hundred feet. When I felt the ring leave my finger, I listened intently to hear any sound of it hitting a tree, limb, or leaves that covered the ground. Nothing! I immediately informed my friends of my plight, and we scoured the area for over an hour. No luck.
I felt horrible, but we continued the picnic and eventually returned home to Lynchburg. I told my dad about it the next day. After all, he had paid for the ring. He said, "Let's take a metal detector back to the picnic area and see if we can find it." The next day, my dad and I returned to the picnic area and began searching for the ring. After no luck for about an hour, we noticed a car approach. It was a park ranger; and while he sympathized with my loss, he informed us that metal detectors were not allowed on park property. We packed up our gear and headed home. Over the years, my family and I would occasionally return to the picnic site for an outing. Each time, I would look for the ring, but never with any luck.
About 25 years later, the telephone rang at home. I picked it up and a woman's voice on the other end asked if I was Charles Cox. I said yes. She said, "Did you go to Virginia Tech?" I was beginning to think she was a telemarketer, but decided to answer, "Yes." She asked if I had lost my Tech ring. I said, "Yes, almost 25 years ago." She asked if I could describe it. I identified the ring by the stone color and the college I had graduated in. Sure enough, she had found it!
While she and her husband were walking a trail near the picnic area after a very hard rain, she noticed a shiny spot on the ground. After some digging, the entire ring was extracted completely intact, albeit a little dirty and slightly dulled. She took the ring home, cleaned it up, and was able to read my name and city inscribed inside. I met this woman the next day and gave her a small reward, which she only reluctantly accepted, and after nearly 25 years, I had my Tech ring back.
This was an amazing story, as I had given up hope of ever seeing my ring again! I'll always be appreciative of that woman's fortune in finding my ring and her honesty in returning it.
Charles "Chuck" Cox (economics, science '73) lives in Lynchburg, Virginia.
Share your stories of lost-and-found class rings by using the hashtag #foundVTrings on social media.
The legacy of Dad's ring
Donna Winston Laney wrote of her father, William Howell Winston '53, and his beloved class ring that, though never lost, continues to play a significant role in his family's life.
My father, William Howell Winston, was born and raised on a tobacco farm in Nelson, Virginia. His mother was a college graduate, and when she agreed to marry my grandfather, it was with the clear understanding that any children would be college-educated. My father was the oldest of three boys, and when it came time for college, she chose Virginia Tech for him as she had a favorite uncle that had attended.
My father went to Tech in 1949 and graduated in 1953. He worked hard to earn the money for his ring, and it was one of his most prized possessions. When he proposed to my mother a few years later, he explained to her that he would prefer to continue to wear his Virginia Tech ring on his left hand instead of a wedding band. She readily agreed, and he wore that ring every day except for the few times it was being resized or repaired.
After a full and wonderful life, my father died peacefully on Christmas Eve in 2013. He left behind three adoring daughters and a son. I am his oldest daughter. The first college football game I attended was with my dad and brother on Thanksgiving for the infamous VPI versus VMI game.
After Dad died, we cleaned the ring and placed it lovingly in his top dresser drawer. Shortly after that, we decided to have a family NCAA basketball bracket contest. You see, all of Dad's children and one daughter-in-law are graduates of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and there are spouses who are Penn State, Auburn, and Appalachian State alumni.
As we discussed what the prize would be, it occurred to me that we should play for custody of Dad's ring for the year. All of us, including our mother, quickly agreed and further stipulated that the ring had to be displayed in a place of prominence in the winning household for the year. We agreed that this would be an annual contest so that each household would get a shot at custody of the ring. I purchased a velvet stand and dome to place the ring in, and the contest became so hotly contested that even our dogs and cats complete a bracket for a chance to have the ring for a year.
I have attached a photo of the ring since my dog's bracket was the proud winner last year. We think our dad would be proud of the legacy of his ring since he loved sports and a good contest, and we thought your readers might appreciate our story.
Donna Winston Laney lives in Liberty Hill, South Carolina.
Farm pond, cow path
Robert H. Giles Jr. '55, '58
I got my Virginia Tech class ring in 1955 from my girlfriend. I married her, and we lived happily for 53 years.
After earning an undergraduate forestry degree and then a master's in biology at Tech, I was hired by the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries. In 1960, I was assisting a colleague using a net to seine for fish at a farm pond near Clifton Forge, Virginia. The day and the water were cold, and afterward I drove home, not realizing my ring was missing. I grieved quietly when I realized it was gone.
I continued work in Virginia as a game biologist, then went to Ohio State University and earned a Ph.D. in zoology and wildlife conservation. I taught wildlife management at the University of Idaho, then returned to teach wildlife and ecology courses at Tech from 1967 to 1998.
On the third day after I'd returned to Tech, a freshman wildlife student walked into my office, introduced himself, and asked if I had a class ring. I explained my loss. He explained that he had just learned of me, the new teacher. For years, he had looked at a gold ring on his grandmother's living room table. The previous weekend, he looked inside the band and matched the name.
His grandmother had found the ring on a cow path across the dam from where we had been tending the fish nets after our work in the pond that day. The ring had been hooked by some part of the net and remained in the mud from 1960 to 1999, then turned up at the place it was lost. The ring had been saved by the family and then recognized as a prized possession by the freshman. I continue to wear it with pleasure and thankfulness.
Robert Giles (forestry '55, M.S. biology '58) is a retired professor in the Department of Fish and Wildlife Conservation.
William "Bill" Spengler '59
I received my monogram letter in my freshman year as a pole vaulter. My letter was the last "VP." By ring time, it had changed to "VT."
I lost the ring for three years until we moved; it was behind the drawers of a chest of drawers. The "VT" is chipped with only 3/4 of it showing, but Burruss Hall, the War Memorial, and1959 are still shining brightly. Hokie, Hokie, Hy!
Bill Spengler (chemistry '59) was a member of I Company and the 3rd Battalion staff.
Irving Blank '65
In the late 1980s, Irving Blank (public administration '65) was playing racquetball with his brother-in-law, Michael Mandel '69, at the Westwood Club in Richmond, Virginia. He noticed after the game that his 1965 class ring had disappeared. Despite searching the locker room and reporting the ring missing, he never found it.
"After that day, not a week went by when I did not miss having that ring on my finger," Blank wrote in a letter to Virginia Tech Magazine.
In February 2004, Jimmy Bratton of the Richmond's Hull Street Outlet called to tell Blank that while removing lockers during a renovation at the Westwood Club, he heard something rattling inside one. When he unlocked it, he found what appeared to be a ring, covered with paint. He soaked it in turpentine, then tracked down Blank in Richmond.
"The end of the story is that even though I've had to have the ring size enlarged, as I am nowhere near the same size I was when I was playing tennis at Tech," Blank wrote, "I ... truly consider Feb. 5, 2004, as one of my luckiest days."
D.C. school gutter
John Burge '67
A Congressional Budget Office employee was cleaning a gutter at a Washington, D.C.-area elementary school during a volunteer clean-up day when she found a Virginia Tech class ring. The finder, Clare Doherty, mailed the ring to the Alumni Association, where it was identified and returned to John Burge (business administration '67) of Locust Grove, Virginia. According to Burge, the ring, which was lost for about a decade, had been stolen in a February 1995 burglary.
Samuel Cravens '68
Throwing snowballs in Colorado in the early 1970s, Joani Fillman lost her Class of 1968 ring. It was eventually found by Fred Weishaupl, of South Dakota, on Trail Ridge, the road in Colorado from Estes Park to Grandby. He kept it in a jewelry box for years before sending the ring to the Alumni Association. Fillman's name, however, could not be found in the association's database.
Laura Wedin (M.F.A. theatre arts '84), the Alumni Association's director of alumni/student programs, suspected that Fillman had been given the ring by a Virginia Tech student, possibly as an "engagement" ring. Wedin also correctly guessed that Fillman was a graduate of Radford University. Through an online search, Wedin found Joani under her married name, Cravens, then linked her with Samuel Cravens '68, who lived in Colorado.
"The pieces started to fit!" Wedin wrote in an email to Joani Cravens. Wedin added later, "It is a reoccurring theme: People find a ring, and there is something in them that knows it belongs to someone else (especially with the engraved name inside), and they take action now or eventually."
Fort Bragg drop zone
Hal Johnson '70
Charles Bowser, a paratrooper at a Fort Bragg, North Carolina, drop zone, was searching for his watch, lost during a drop. Instead, he found a ring embedded in a lump of clay soil. Bowser had the ring cleaned, and the inscription revealed that it belonged to Lt. Col. Hal Maynard Johnson (sociology '70) of Woodbridge, Virginia. Bowser found Johnson's address through the Alumni Association office.
Excerpted from the December 1996 edition of Virginia Tech Magazine
A pawn shop ... really!
Brad Kirk '71
I wore my Virginia Tech class ring for a number of years after graduating in '71, although always in fear that it might some day "lose its way" or "take a swim" as it always seemed to be a little too large for my finger. Also, it was constantly catching on the pocket of the stylish and ever-popular knit pants many wore at that time. So, ultimately, the ring got relegated to a jewelry box in a chest of drawers, along with other assorted treasures, including cuff links, tie clasps, and the like. Every so often I would take it out to admire, but mostly it stayed in the box.
From this time until the late '80s, the ring traveled safely through several company moves (not military), eventually ending up in Savannah, Georgia. For four years there, it received basically no attention, just resting in comfort in the drawer. Then, in 1991, movers were once again called to "pack and load" our belongings as we were headed to Atlanta.
Not long after we were getting settled there, I received a call from a gentleman who had told our receptionist that he was an Atlanta Police Department detective. Uh-oh. Fearing the worst (kids, accident), I reluctantly took the call. It turned out that the gentleman was in fact a detective who was doing duty in the department's pawn shop division. (I didn't know there was any such.) He went on to explain that he had discovered a large Virginia Tech class ring on display next to a high school ring in a local shop. Rarely, he said, are college rings found in these shops unless they have been pawned by someone who had actually stolen them.
After confiscating the rings, he had called Tech's alumni office and, based on the information inside the ring and the Alumni Association's help, he was able to identify me as the ring's owner. Although I don't recall all the details, he was able to track me down in Atlanta and where I worked. Although initially upset about how the rings had been taken, I was excited about getting them back, but wondered how much it was going to affect my finances.
As it turned out, the detective arrived that same afternoon with the rings. I recall him being very professional, friendly, and not at all interested in any sort of reward for his efforts. Needless to say, I was extremely grateful, and I will say that I acquired the greatest respect for those who serve in the Atlanta Police Department.
After that, it was back to the box for the rings — a safe deposit box!
Dick Jeffress '74 lost his father's 1934 ring; Dick's son, Nick '08, wrote about it.
Today just became the best day in a while.
In the fall, after attending a home game in Lane Stadium, my dad noticed that my grandfather's class ring had slipped off his finger. My grandfather, Class of 1934, was was a lifelong Hokie and a season ticket holder at Lane Stadium since it had opened. My first Hokie football game in 1996 was sitting next to him, and I made the four-hour drive from Richmond to Blacksburg with him and other members of my family for almost every game during the eight years before I attended. Since my grandfather passed away in 2007, my dad, Dick Jeffress (general business '74), has made it a "good-luck ritual" to wear the ring during every Virginia Tech game (thus the reason for this basketball season's downturn). After the ring's loss this fall, we were devastated.
We searched throughout the stadium for an hour: checked all around our seats, checked the bathrooms, sifted through the trash can by our car where we had dumped our tailgate trash. Nothing. Pulling away from the stadium, we had all resigned ourselves to having lost the ring, and after a letter to the athletic department received no reply, we assumed the ring was lost forever.
Until tonight. This evening, my dad received an email from the Alumni Association saying that they had received a ring identified as "a VPI class of 1934 ring … belonging to your father William H. Jeffress." Someone, after finding the ring in Lane Stadium this fall, had turned it in so it could find its way to its proper owner. Talk about Hokie spirit.
I know it's a small deed. Someone found something that wasn't theirs, and they turned it in. Big deal. What's so awesome is how excited my dad was when he told me. How student programs took the time to figure out whom the ring belonged to and sought them out to give it back. How, after all you hear during junior year about the ring tradition at Virginia Tech, it proves to be a tradition that everyone truly believes in. Right now, I'm as happy to be a Hokie as I ever have been.
To whoever found it: Thank you for caring about your university, its traditions, and the others who care about them as much as you do. Thank you for knowing that someone, somewhere, really cared about that ring, and for turning it in is as you hope a fellow Hokie would do for you. Thank you for allowing us to continue bringing our first Hokie to games with us next fall. Thank you on behalf of my entire family of Hokies and future Hokies to come. Thank you a thousand times more.
I can't wait to get back to Blacksburg.
Nick Jeffress (English '08) lives in Washington, D.C.
Rhett Lowery '75 traded correspondence with the finder of his ring, lost while scraping his car in snow and ice.
Monday, February 07, 2005 9:10 AM
Subject: My VT '75 class ring
Hello Ms. Bowers,
I understand from Shirley Fleet at the Virginia Tech Alumni Association that you are in possession of my 1975 class ring. I lost that ring in the parking lot of the Fairfax County Government Center during a snowstorm over a decade ago, while removing ice and snow from the windshield of our van. I elected not to wear gloves, and as I shook my hands to get the ice off, the ring flew off and that was the end of the ring. I looked for that ring for several years, as our van has parked in the same area of the Fairfax Government center for over 14 years. I could not find the ring and finally gave up looking for it. Last year, my wife, knowing that I missed it, purchased a replacement for me as Christmas present.
The ring that you have I had resized about 20 years ago. The one that I have now is not like the one that you have, as the ring company no longer has the Corps of Cadets crest. As I am retired military, I miss the crest.
I would be interested in knowing how you came into possession of my ring, how long you have had it, and how I can get it back from you.
Rhett Lowery '75
Monday, February 07, 2005 9:33 AM
Subject: Re: My VT '75 class ring
I am so glad to hear from you. We used to live in Fairfax Station, but moved to Greensboro five years ago. I really cannot remember when your ring was found. My older son found it in a parking lot. (I thought I remembered Home Depot.) The two of us have tried to find you many times, but to no avail. I contacted the school early on, but no one could offer me any suggestions on how to find you. I even looked up phone numbers in Virginia and called them.
My husband convinced me to try one last time to get it to its rightful home. I did a web search for "lost and found college rings," and Virginia Tech was the only college that came up with its own listing!
I emailed Shirley on Saturday and thought I would give it a couple of weeks or so, and here it is Monday at 9:15! Please tell her that I really appreciate the link that came up on the search. Otherwise, we might never have corresponded. One of the reasons I feel so strongly about getting this home is my son, the same one that found your ring, lost his William & Mary ring (except he really thinks it was stolen). Maybe by doing this good deed, we will get lucky with his!
The entire Bowers Family
Atop a gas pump
John Dery '79
While living in Richmond more than two decades ago, John Dery '79 removed his class ring for a friendly game of football. His friends placed their rings on a nearby car hood, but Dery put his on the bumper instead.
After the game, the group discovered that the car was gone and that the rings had been placed on a jacket on the ground. Dery's ring was nowhere to be seen. "I was pretty sick about it," Dery told a reporter from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Joe Harris later found the ring on a pump at a gas station. He didn't see anyone around, so he took it and placed it in a box with his coin collection. Twenty years later, Harris and a neighbor started talking one night about University of Georgia football players who had auctioned their Southeastern Conference rings online.
Remembering the ring he'd found, Harris pulled it from the box and noticed, for the first time, Dery's name inscribed inside. He conducted an internet search and quickly found Dery.
Harris soon returned the ring to Dery, who told the reporter, "Thank goodness for those guys at UGA," Dery said. "If it wasn't for them, this ring would still be up in Joe's drawer."
Adapted from a story by Jennifer Brett in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution
James Slaght '88
"… In January, British tourist Ian Williams found a Virginia Tech class ring buried in a sandy reef a few miles off the Cayman Islands. He emailed the Virginia Tech webmaster, who forwarded the request for information about the person whose name was inscribed inside the ring to the Virginia Tech Alumni Association. Williams was sent the address of the owner, James Slaght (architecture '88) of Irondale, Alaska, who had lost the ring on a diving trip the previous month.
Excerpted from a Virginia Tech Magazine story
William Christiansen '11, '13
Randy —a fellow Hokie — and I built a massive raft to explore the New River. At one point, I attempted to get back on the raft from the shore and fell in, not realizing I had lost my ring until the next morning after camping. Thankfully, the battle ring lasted nearly four years in the river until another Hokie found it and mailed it to me. While the insurance through Balfour had given me another ring, I always wear the one that found its way back to me in the hope that my wife and I can eventually make our way back to Blacksburg for good! Hokie for life.
Sarah Wilkins, Class of 2017
I was at Claytor Lake [in Pulaski County, Virginia] for Labor Day. I was in the water throwing a football with some friends, and I guess my hands were slippery from sunscreen because when I threw the football, my class ring flew off my finger and into the water. My friends and I all searched for the ring for an hour and a half, looking around with goggles and sifting around in the sand, but with no luck. Finally, I just left my name and number with the staff at Claytor Lake.
One week later, I got a call from a man telling me that he may have found something that I had lost. I confirmed over the phone that I had lost my class ring, so we arranged a time to meet and exchange the ring. When I met him out at the lake, he told me he had searched for it for three days straight with his metal detector and finally found the class ring, confirming that it was mine by my name engraved on the inside. I never thought I would see my class ring again, so I was extremely grateful to get it back and for the man who searched for it for so long!
The lost-and-found rings that belonged to no one
Around 1980, J.C. Gonzales of Maryland found a 1970 Virginia Tech ring in the vicinity of Silver Spring, Maryland. He tucked it away, but upon rediscovering it, mailed it to the Alumni Association.
Because no name was engraved in the ring, only a "9" on the inside, the Alumni Association could not identify an owner. A consultation with Balfour representations, however, revealed that the ring was a 10-karat sample ring, and the "9" inscribed inside indicated the ring size, confirmed with a sizer rod. The ring, which had apparently been taken from a ring sale, is now on display in the Holtzman Alumni Center.
A similarly mysterious ring appeared when John "Mac" Davis '51 of Virginia Beach, Virginia, brought to the Alumni Association a much-corroded Class of 1981 ring that he had found on a river beach near Gloucester, Virginia. This ring also turned out to be a sizer ring, with size 6.5 stamped on the front where a stone is typically placed.