After 37 years, lost Central class ring returned to owner

Thursday, February 1, 2007
Judy McMullin was reunited last week with her Central High School class ring that she lost in 1970 at Lake Wappapello. (Fred Lynch)

While water skiing with her friends at Lake Wappapello in the summer of 1970, Judy McMullin lost her brand-new high school class ring.

"I had only had it a month," said McMullin, a graduate of Central High School who now lives in Chaffee, Mo. "I was so disappointed that I'd lost it so soon."

Now, 37 years later, McMullin has her ring back.

A year after McMullin lost it, Shirley Essary of Poplar Bluff, Mo., discovered the ring at the edge of the lake while she was boating with her family. Essary put it in her jewelry box when she returned home.

"It was just something I put away and didn't think about," Essary said.

The ring sat there until recently, when Essary cleaned out her jewelry box and rediscovered it.

"The first thing I thought was, 'I have to find the owner of that ring,'" she said.

Essary said her brother-in-law informed her that the CHS inscribed on the ring stood for Central High School. The ring also had the owner's initials on it.

Essary's husband, Pat, knew that Don Schrieber, publisher and co-owner of the Daily American Republic in Poplar Bluff, was from Cape Girardeau, so he approached Schrieber one morning while he was having coffee with Poplar Bluff locals and explained the situation. Schrieber took it upon himself to search for the ring's owner.

"What piqued my interest was that I graduated in '71," Schrieber said. "Even though she was a year older, I felt compelled to return it to my classmate."

Schrieber didn't have a 1970 yearbook, so he called up an old Central High School friend and found McMullin's maiden initials, J.A.F., as the only one in the class. He started calling every Fee in the phone book.

Schrieber finally reached Cora Fee, Judy's mother, who gave him her phone number and told Schrieber her married name is McMullin.

McMullin was surprised when she got Schrieber's phone call.

"I couldn't believe he'd found me," McMullin said. "When he told me where the ring was found, I knew it was mine."

On Saturday, Schrieber flew in from Poplar Bluff to the Cape Girardeau Regional Airport to return the ring to McMullin.

"He's a very nice man for doing this," McMullin said. "I am so thankful to him and to Shirley for keeping the ring for so long."

Schrieber said his high school class ring means more to him now than it did before.

"Knowing how much my class ring means to me, I felt a sense of accomplishment returning something that I put high value upon," Schrieber said.

lbertrand@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 137

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