Friday, April 20, 2018
Human Interest

Debbie and her ring: Reunited, and it feels so good

The class ring. It is often one of the first items of value we get when we are young; it is also one of the first items of value we lose — because we are young.

But this is the age of class ring recovery.

In the past month alone, a dozen people across the country have been reunited with class rings found by metal detectors and treasure hunters, in front yards and back yards, at the bottom of a lake and in the bowels of a car, by a teen cleaning his apartment and a boy burying his dog. In Wyoming, a 94-year-old woman was reunited with her 1936 class ring, which was recovered from the South Pacific crash site of her husband's B-17 bomber.

It's not hard to figure out why they're turning up. Class rings leave a distinct trail: high school name, graduation year, a person's initials. Pop online and you don't have to be Lt. Columbo to figure this one out.

Debbie McConnell Barker, 50, last saw her class ring more than 30 years ago in Connecticut. She'd given it to a boyfriend in 1981, her senior year in high school in Hebron, Conn., because that's what you did back then. They broke up after she went to college.

Several weeks ago, a classmate trolling eBay noticed the sapphire ring of RHAM High School and put out a call to other classmates. One of Barker's friends noticed that the ring matched her initials and posted a photo of the ring on her Facebook page, writing "Debbie, is this yours?"

The ring was less than a mile from her office in Largo, where Barker works for Pinellas County schools. "What are the chances?" she said.

The seller, who owns a vintage jewlery boutique, got the ring from an auction house in Zephyrhills. Sentimentality didn't overwhelm her business sense, and she told Barker she would have to bid just like everyone else. The ring already had a dozen bids, but Barker's husband stayed up late one night to seal the final bid, which came to $42, including tax and shipping.

Barker was excited to get it back, but she wasn't quite sure what to do with it. The ring didn't fit her anymore. So she put it on a chain and gave it to her husband. It's hanging from his rearview mirror.

— Leonora LaPeter Anton

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