Hope College December 2012 : Page 20
Alumni Profile Return of the S Ring ometimes, lost is lost, and cherished items missing remain so. Sometimes, maybe even 52 years later, they walk in the door. Scott Smith of Bellevue, Ohio, had no connection to Hope College. He had never even been to Holland or West Michigan, but through happenstance he had taken possession of a bit of Hope that eventually inspired a journey—and enduring gratitude. At a garage sale in about 1982, as a young 22-year-old, he’d purchased a box of miscellany for a dollar in a nearby town. Digging through the contents later, he found a gold fraternity ring, labeled with the college’s name, the year 1963 and the Greek letters OKE, and monogrammed with the initials DAM. He wondered if it might have belonged to someone local, but no one he knew in his tight-knit community could fit the initials to a connection to Hope, and so he stored it with other jewelry, and the years passed. Earlier this fall, he was sorting through his belongings and came across the ring. Clearly, he reflected, it had belonged to someone before it landed at that garage sale. Maybe, just maybe, there was a way to connect it with someone who might be able to locate its owner or the owner’s family. And, he could do better than the phone or mail. After losing his Fraternal society ring in Ohio 52 years ago, Don mitchell ’63, at right, had long since given up on ever seeing it again. A visit in October from scott smith of Bellevue, Ohio, who had no connection to Hope but was dedicated to uniting the ring he’d found at a garage sale with its owner, was a singular surprise. “It has been a wonderful experience, knowing that there are honest people out there and then getting my ring back.” – Don Mitchell ’63 “I thought, ‘I’ve got some time here. Maybe I ought to take that ring and drive it to Hope College. Hopefully I can find somebody to give it to,’” he said. “I had a couple days. I had the time off, when I realized that Hope College wasn’t that far away from me.” Once on campus, in October, Smith visited the Alumni Office—and was met at the door by Scott Travis ’06, director of alumni and parent relations. What happened next floored him. Travis listened to his story, looked at the ring, spent a few minutes at the computer, and said, “I think I know who this belongs to.” The clues on the ring meant that the owner could only be one person, and it was someone that Travis knew. He then made a call. “I had never dreamed that it would happen like that,” Smith said. Neither had Don Mitchell ’63 of Ada, Mich. “Scott Travis called me and said, ‘I have some interesting news for you,’” Mitchell said. “He said, ‘I’ve got a gentleman here from Ohio,’ and as soon as he said ‘Ohio,’ I said ‘Oh, no.’” It had been April of 1960, and then-freshman Mitchell and other students returning to campus together from back East after spring break had stopped at a rest area on the Ohio Turnpike. As a newly minted Frater he was wearing the treasured Fraternal Society ring he’d purchased just two months before, and he wanted to take care of it. “I had gone to the sink to wash my hands. I looked at my new, beautiful, shiny ring and thought, ‘I’m not going to get soap on that,’ and took it off,” he remembered. Not yet accustomed to wearing the ring, he forgot to put it back on, remembering only as the group neared Holland some five hours later. He immediately made some calls and ultimately reached the supervisor of the rest area, who helpfully searched, but to no avail. “I even told him what sink it was—it was the third sink from the left,” Mitchell said. Following the much more celebratory call in October, Travis arranged for Smith to stay at the Haworth Inn as a guest of the college, and then the next day Mitchell hosted Smith at Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park in Grand Rapids, Mich. He also gave Smith a Frater 175th-anniversary cap as a thematic thank-you. What happened to the ring between 1960 and 1982 is anybody’s guess. What happened in 2012, though, is priceless. “It has been a wonderful experience, knowing that there are honest people out there and then getting my ring back,” Mitchell said. “It put me on an emotional high last week.” “I can’t speak highly enough of Scott Smith,” he said. “For him to do this was a very special gift.” 20 News From From Hope Hope College College News
Return of the Ring
Sometimes, lost is lost, and cherished items missing remain so.
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