ORONO, Maine — A pair of eagle-eyed grounds workers and a dogged dispatcher at the University of Maine have solved the 27-year-old mystery of the missing class ring.
Roderick “Gunny” Thompson and Steve Stone were breaking up an asphalt walkway behind Somerset Hall preparing to replace it Wednesday morning. As they picked up the broken pieces, something shiny caught their eyes.
“I thought it was something copper,” Thompson, of Charleston, said Thursday. “Turns out it was 14-karat gold.”
Stone, of Alton, pulled it out from under a piece of broken asphalt and discovered it was a woman’s class ring.
“It said Shrewsbury High School and the year 1982 was on it and had the woman’s name, Lisa M. Prue, engraved inside,” he said. “Shrewsbury’s in Massachusetts somewhere, I think.”
The workers did what they do with all found property — turned it over to the University of Maine police.
That’s when Andy Brown, police communications coordinator, took over the investigation.
“I went to the student records database and found that a Lisa Prue graduated in 1986,” Brown, of Veazie, said Thursday. “That would have made her a first-year student, or freshman, back in the fall of ’82.”
Through the Alumni Office, he found Lisa M. Prue Lawrence with an address in Worcester, Mass. Brown checked for a phone number online, but found none.
“On a whim, I called the Worcester Police Department to see if they might have a local number for her,” Brown said. “I told them who I was looking for, they put me on hold, then said they’d get in touch with her and have her call me. I thought it was kind of odd that a big-city police department would know who she was.”
The Worcester police know exactly who Lisa Lawrence is because her husband, Paul Lawrence, is a detective in the department. He called Brown late Wednesday afternoon.
“I said to him, ‘I think your wife lost a ring recently,’” the dispatcher said Thursday. “He said, ‘No, she has not been back on campus for more than 20 years. Then she got on the phone and said, ‘Wow, I lost that ring 27 years ago in a snowball fight.’”
“When they contacted my husband, I thought they’d found it years ago and were cleaning out some old property,” Lisa Lawrence, who is now a speech pathologist in Worcester, Mass., said early Thursday evening. “I can’t believe they found it Wednesday. It’s just amazing.”
The mother of three said that she lost the ring during a snowball fight outside her dorm in the first snowstorm of the winter, but she didn’t recall if it was 1982 or 1983. She said that she and her friends spent hours digging through the snow, looking for the ring. When workers laid asphalt in the spring, she remembered asking them whether they’d found the ring.
“I remember when I lost it, I was frantic because my parents had helped me buy it,” she said Thursday. “When I talked to my sister and told her it had been found, she remembered that I was afraid to tell them I’d lost it.”
Eventually, she had to tell her parents the ring was lost, but on Wednesday she called her parents to tell them it had been found.
Brown said he would mail the ring back to her today.
“We connect people with lost items all the time, but nothing like this,” he said. “It usually takes a lot more research to get someone’s lost car keys back to them. To have found something lost this long ago is quite strange.”