Four decades later, lost ring comes back in the mail
Forty years ago, Emma Benford may have taken off her gold college class ring to wash her hands, something nurses do quite a bit. At least, that's how Benford speculates that she lost the ring.
She has the it back now. It arrived in the mail a month ago, sent by a German goldsmith who at one point planned to melt it down.
The ring vanished while Benford was living on a military base in Germany, where her U.S. Army officer husband, Jewell Benford, was stationed from 1966 to 1968.
She doesn't remember exactly when it went missing. "Most of the time, I wore it," she said. But in those days she had her hands full with a young son and daughter, and a job as school nurse at the American School.
After the stint in Germany the family came back to the United States. The Benfords raised a family and moved many times over the years. Two decades ago, they retired in Astoria.
Meanwhile in Germany, about a dozen years ago, Regina M. Jaene, a goldsmith in the town Schieder-Schwalenberg, purchased the ring from someone who brought it into her shop.
She intended to melt it down, but didn't get around to it. So, she put it away in a box with other small gold objects.
Finally, a few months ago, she took it out. She noted the blue stone and the engraving on the gold.
It said, "BS 1957, Nazareth College, Louisville, Ky." There was a pelican, too, the symbol of charity used by the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth, an order of Roman Catholic nuns who ran the Catholic women's college when Benford was a student.
Jaene tracked down the college on the Web, and school officials identified the initials inside the band — E.E.M. — as those of Emma Elinor Mayes. But the alumni office was having no luck tracking down Emma Benford.
Finally, a college official turned to the Courier-Journal in Louisville, Ky., where Benford had grown up.
A Dec. 27 story attracted the attention of a friend of Benford's sister, who lives in Louisville. That closed the loop.
"Your ring is now coming back to you," Jaene wrote to Benford. "It's a great pleasure for me to return it."