David Lauderdale

Mysterious class ring found in Bluffton on its way home to Wisconsin

The mystery of the high school ring has not been solved.

But it does have a happy ending, thanks to a Bluffton couple.

Crystal Sturkey is a sales associate at the Food Lion supermarket at Kittie's Crossing in Bluffton. One day she found something unusual in the bottom of a wooden sales bin.

It was a high school ring.

It was gold with an emerald-green stone. It was from Farmington High School, class of 1981. Engraved inside the ring was the name "Mary Gallagher."

Sturkey put it in the store's lost-and-found box, where it continued its lonely existence. A few days later, she figured she could do more than that. She took it home, and her boyfriend launched a search for its owner.

Shawn Ward did a Web search for "Farmington High School." He came up with eight. He called them all. He was quickly told by Farmington Highs in Michigan, New Mexico, Illinois and New Hampshire there was no Mary Gallagher in the class of 1981. The schools in Connecticut, Missouri, Arkansas and Minnesota would get back to him.

He called the Jostens class ring people. They don't keep sales records that long, he said.

But that same search turned up a website called ClassRingFinder.com. He registered the ring there. The site lists 14,635 rings lost and has logged 3,129 rings found.

Meanwhile, Ward called every Gallagher in the local phone book. Of 17 listings, he got about 10 answers. Pam Gallagher of Sun City Hilton Head told him it didn't belong to her. But she asked to be kept in the loop. She wanted to hear how it turned out.

Someone in the office at Farmington High School in Minnesota thought Mary Gallagher was the sister of longtime local teacher Marlene Frank. Calls were made, phone numbers were exchanged, and on Monday, Mary Gallagher Wright of Sturgeon Bay, Wisc., called Shawn Ward in Bluffton and perfectly described her long lost ring.

"It's just unbelievable because I've never even been to South Carolina," Wright said Tuesday.

She doesn't remember when or how the ring was lost. As a travel agent, she would love to know its itinerary all these years.

The silent ring should arrive in her mailbox soon, a fond reminder of her days at dear old Farmington High, where she was a hockey cheerleader and vice president of her senior class. She thanks the Bluffton couple for their perseverance. And she's reworking her show-and-tell speech for her 30th high school reunion in July.