- Associated Press - Sunday, May 8, 2016

SAPULPA, Okla. (AP) - Whose ring is this?

For decades, it was a Vanderslice family mystery, the Tulsa World (https://bit.ly/1OfwJsa ) reported.

It’s a cold case no longer because the Vanderslices were able to reunite former Edison High School baseball player Tom Brown with a class ring he hadn’t seen in 30 years.

The “mystery” ring had long been in the possession of James and Patricia Vanderslice, who are from the Okfuskee County community of Welty.

Thanks to social media, they were finally able to identify the owner.

They agreed to meet with Brown, who lives in the Coweta area, at a midway point between their homes.

Last week, the ring was returned to Brown in the parking lot of a Sapulpa church. After handshakes and pleasantries were exchanged, the ring was handed to Brown, who looked at it and said, “I’ll be danged. That is it. That’s crazy, isn’t it?”

Brown lost track of the ring while he was a student at Oklahoma State University. He said he didn’t wear it that much and that it was probably in the cupholder of his pickup truck more than it was on his finger. Years later, he told his wife he probably lost the ring while fishing or gave it to a girlfriend. More likely, it fell out of the cupholder or he misplaced it while working on the truck.

Brown said he sold the truck - a ‘77 Chevy - in 1986 without realizing the ring was still in the vehicle. The truck went through other owners before James Vanderslice acquired it. He found the ring while changing the floor mats.

The Vanderslices wanted to find the owner long ago, but they probably would have needed a combination of legwork and luck to get that accomplished in the pre-Internet age. They stashed the ring away for safekeeping, although son Jarrod said he used to have fun with it when he was a kid.

“I remember playing Green Lantern with that because, you know, Green Lantern had the ring,” he said.

“It’s a miracle that we still have the ring, as much as I played with it. And I don’t think Mom and Dad know I played with it as much as I did.”

Fast forward to 2016.

Patricia Vanderslice was tidying up her jewelry box recently and - boom - got reacquainted with the mystery ring.

“We need to do something about this,” she said.

Patricia suggested using Facebook as a resource to track down the owner. She enlisted the help of Jarrod, who posted a photo of the ring and pertinent details (class of 1983, the initials “TMB”) on Facebook.

One day later, the Facebook post had been shared 300 times. Many people wanted the story to have a happy ending.

Brown started getting out-of-the-blue messages from people who told him his class ring had been found.

“I thought they were playing with me,” he said.

The crazy part of the story is Brown and James Vanderslice had met before the ring was returned. Brown sells bridge-building supplies. Vanderslice builds bridges. Their business dealings led them to having dinner together in the past. But the class ring never came up in conversation (why would it?) so they had no way of knowing about their mutual property.

“Is that not a small world?” Jarrod said. “That was the icing on the cake right there.”

Asked Friday to try the ring on, Brown said, “It still fits, believe it or not. I didn’t think it would fit my fat fingers, but it does.”

Brown, 50, could have gone the rest of his life and never missed the ring. But the ring means something to him now because the Vanderslices had enough integrity to return the ring and because they took time out of their lives to find him.

“That’s pretty awesome, you all doing this,” he said. “I do appreciate it.”

Brown said he isn’t much of a ring-wearer. He doesn’t wear his wedding ring. What will he do with the class ring? He said he will put it somewhere people can see it so he can tell them the story behind it.

“I think it’s really a neat deal, and it kind of shows how social media can be used for good things,” he said.

James was asked why it was important for the Vanderslices to return the ring. His answer was short: “Wouldn’t you want it?”

Patricia said she lost her class ring in a travel trailer.

“Maybe somebody will get mine,” she said.


Information from: Tulsa World, https://www.tulsaworld.com

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