After somewhere around 37 years, a lost class ring is finally on its way back to its original owner.
Last week in this space I wrote about keeping a promise to my late maternal grandmother that I made many years ago. She found a class ring on the roof of her Hillsboro home sometime after some repairs had been made to the roof, and it was her wish that the ring be returned to its rightful owner. From markings on the ring, it obviously belonged to someone who graduated from Washington (C.H.) Senior High School in 1983, and Grandma asked if I would help return it to the owner.
So, she handed the ring to me, and asked me to see what I could do. When she passed on away on Dec. 12, 2017, at the age of 99.5, I still had not completed her request.
I tried, but not as hard as I should have, and have kept the ring in a container in a desk drawer at work for many years. When I came across it recently, I decided it was time to give a better effort in finding the owner.
Thanks largely to social media, I have found her.
Her name is Lori J. Stallman, and she still lives in Washington C.H.
After receiving several tips this week about who the ring might belong to, mostly from Washington C.H. area residents, I came to work Thursday to find a message on my phone from Ms. Stallman. When she described the ring in detail — and after others had told me it might belong to her — I knew she had to be the owner.
But there still is one mystery. Ms. Stallman has no idea how the ring could have got from the place she lost it to where my grandmother found it.
When she was a junior or senior in high school, Ms. Stallman said, one night she visited the old Ranch Drive-in near Greenfield. On the way home, she was in a passenger in a car that wrecked and rolled over. She said it was late at night, that she yelled at the driver who had fallen asleep or something, but it was too late and the car rolled over into a field.
“Everything was like a blur after that,” she said. “I hitched a ride home, went to the hospital, and when I got there I didn’t have my class ring.”
“I can’t figure out how, unless someone found it and picked it up in the field, it got from a wreck on SR 753 to a roof in Hillsboro,” she added.
Like many high school kids in the years around the 1980s, Ms. Stallman said the ring was something she wanted and that she ordered it during her sophomore year. Class rings, at least in those days, were not cheap, and sacrifices often had to be made by parents to purchase them for their children.
“I was sad, but my parents were angry that I lost it so quick,” she said. “I thought it was gone and that I’d never see it again.”
The column I wrote last week also appeared in the Record Herald in Washington C.H. But it was Facebook, Mr. Stallman said, where her granddaughter saw a post about the ring.
“She said, ‘Hey, I think they’re talking about you on this Facebook post,’” Ms. Stallman said. “She was like, ‘It’s you grandma. I’m telling you, it’s you.’”
Ms. Stallman said that while she doesn’t spend much time on computers, some of her WHS class of ‘83 classmates also told her about the story.
“I couldn’t believe it,” she said. “I was like, oh my goodness. It was amazing. I never dreamed I’d hear about it or ever get it back. I’m ecstatic.”
She said that when she gets it, she plans to wear the ring. But she joked that she might have to wear it on a chain because her fingers are not the same size they once were.
Ironically, Ms. Stallman said, not long ago she worked with a woman at a Chinese restaurant who had lost a class ring that was returned to her after a while. She said at the time she thought about an old saying about how things lost will sometimes find their way back to people.
As we spoke over the phone, I told Ms. Stallman about the promise I had made to my grandmother, and that I had decided it was time to follow through on that promise.
“You know,” she said, “she is looking down on us listening with a smile as we have this conversation.”
Jeff Gilliland is the editor of The Times-Gazette. He can be reached at email@example.com or 937-402-2522.