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Class ring finds its way back to owner after 51 years

The last time Horst Adler saw his high school class ring, it was dangling on a chain around his sweetheart's neck in 1960. After they broke up, he never thought he'd see it again.
/ Source: PhillyBurbs.com

The last time Horst Adler saw his high school class ring, it was dangling on a chain around his sweetheart's neck.

He had given the ring to Valda Ozols the year after he graduated. The two were going steady.

But young love was fleeting, and after a year, they parted ways.

"She never gave me the ring back. But there was no real animosity," said Adler. "And it never created much urgency on my part (to retrieve it)."

Still, Adler never thought he'd see his Quakertown Community High School Class of 1959 ring again.

He was wrong — it just took 51 years.

Last October, the 69-year-old retiree, who lives with his wife, Jeanette, in Mesa, Ariz., received the mint condition gold and black onyx ring in the mail.

The persistence of a New Jersey woman and the detective work of Quakertown School District's administrative assistant helped get the ring back in the hands of its rightful owner.

"I was totally flabbergasted. After half a century, I was getting the ring back," said Adler.

It all started when Lette Magrini, of Bergen County, N.J., stumbled on the class ring while searching through an old box belonging to her late father.

Magrini had no idea where it came from or who it belonged to. Her father, Albert "Bundy" Beres, did not attend Quakertown High School.

"He had zero ties to Quakertown or Philadelphia," said Magrini, 56.

But Beres was a "rockhound," someone who collected minerals. He would often trade or barter for different specimens and Magrini believes that's how he may have ended up with the ring.

"It kind of sounds like something he would do," she said.

When Magrini found the ring last year, she did a quick Internet search for Quakertown High School and sent Alice Bishop, the superintendent's administrative assistant, an e-mail.

Magrini knew the ring probably belonged to a male student given its size. It was also marked with the year 1959.

"I needed to find who owned it," said Magrini, who never thought of selling it.

The ring, with its image of a Quaker emblazoned in the center, did offer a major clue — the initials "H.A." were engraved on the inside.

Bishop, who keeps the books for the district's alumni association, pulled out the class list for 1959 and found Horst Adler was the only one with the initials to match.

Like Magrini, Bishop did her own Internet search and easily came across Adler, who is involved in church ministries and has a visible presence online. She e-mailed Adler and got him and Magrini in touch.

"It's really a remarkable story," Adler said. "(Magrini) could have done a lot things with (the ring). She could have put it back in the box or sold it. But she realized there might be some emotional attachment. How many people would do that?"

And Adler credits Bishop's "cyberspace capabilities" to track him down.

The exact journey of the ring remains a mystery. How did it end up in northern New Jersey?

"It's the one thing I'd like to figure out," said Adler. "Was it lost or pawned? If the ring could speak."

Adler lost touch with his old sweetheart Valda Ozols. A phone directory lists her as living in Oakland, Calif., but she could not be reached for comment.

Though their detective work is complete, Magrini, Adler and Bishop have kept in touch via e-mail.

"We're buddies now," said Bishop.

Their story has gone viral, and they've been fielding interviews from news outlets across the country.

As for Adler, he has the ring safely tucked away in a box.

"It doesn't fit my ring finger anymore," he said. "And I'm not much of a ring wearer."

Hilary Bentman can be reached at 215-538-6380 or hbentman@phillyBurbs.com. Follow Hilary on Twitter at twitter.com/HilaryBentman.