By David Fleet
Tracy (Landon) Webber, a 1979 Brandon High School alumna figured she’d seen the last of her class ring.
Tracy, now 58, purchased the sapphire clad Brandon class ring during her sophomore year in 1976. After graduation she studied culinary at Oakland University and married high school sweetheart Marc Webber in 1981.
“The class ring stayed in my jewelry box for many years,” she said. “Over the years I had it on for maybe a week total.”
Tracy and husband Marc moved from Brandon Township to Rockford, Mich. in the Grand Rapids area in 1984. The couple have been married for 38 years and have three girls and a boy.
In 2006, their second daughter Mallorie was starting her freshman year at Rockford High School and was contemplating the purchase of a class ring.
“So, I showed her my class ring,” said Tracy. “Mallorie wanted to try it out so she put it on and, while it was too small for me, it fit her.”
The two then went shopping at a Grand Rapids area Sam’s Club.
“After shopping we left the store and were a few miles down the road when I just happened to look over at Mallorie’s hand and said, ‘where’s my class ring?’ she recalled.
Mallorie had used the restroom at Sam’s Club and removed the ring to wash her hands, leaving it on the sink. They returned to the store and the ring was gone from the bathroom.
“The sink drain was covered with a fine grate so it could not have been washed down,” she said.
Sam’s Club refused to make an announcement over the store intercom regarding the lost ring. Despite searching pawn shops and jewelry stores for the next month the class ring was not recovered.
“I just figured it was stolen,” she said. “Someone may have also sold it for the gold and it was melted down.”
Tracy had forgotten about the class ring until about 13 years later when on Aug. 21, 2019 she received a text message from a former Brandon High School classmate, Colleen Fortney (McGee).
“Did you loose your class ring?,” texted Fortney. “Yes,” replied Tracy. “Someone found it!!,” texted Fortney. “What?,” texted Tracy.
The class ring was recovered by Doug Linn, a resident of Kent City located just north of Grand Rapids. Linn used Tracy’s maiden name initials “TLL,” Tracy Lynne Landon etched on the inside of the ring along with Classmates.com, the Ortonville Strong Facebook group and the Brandon High School office to connect with Tracy.
Following a phone call to identify the class ring, Linn made the 20 minute trek to the Webber’s home.
“I had not seen my class ring in 14 years,” said Tracy. “When he handed me the ring, I looked at it and said, ‘well damn.’”
Linn explained his 72 year old mother-in-law, Georgia, who lives next door to him in Kent City was sitting at the kitchen table when Tracy’s class ring fell off her hand and landed on the floor. A family member picked up the ring and noticed it was not Georgia’s class ring.
“Georgia wears the white gold class ring of her daughter who was killed in a car accident in 2001,” said Linn. “So when the gold colored class ring hit the floor we all looked at it an knew something was wrong.”
Georgia was diagnosed with dementia about four years ago and family members care for her. Dementia is a group of symptoms which include a decline in memory or other thinking skills severe enough to reduce a person’s ability to perform everyday activities
“Honestly we have no idea how she ended up with that ring,” he said. “She may have had it all those years or not. We’re not even sure she ever shopped at the Sam’s Club where it was left 14 years ago.”
Linn shared Georgia’s medical condition to Tracy following the return of the class ring.
“I told him you can return my class ring to Georgia if you want,” said Tracy. “I really did not care about the ring and if that would make Georgia happy or feel better then just go for it.”
Tracy’s empathy for a person suffering from dementia comes from her own 96 year old mother in law, Dorothy Webber who also suffered from the same illness.
“I totally can relate what she’s going through,” she said. “People with dementia get in that mode of panic sometimes. I know.”
Linn declined the offer but thanked Tracy for the gesture.
“I dropped the ring back in my jewelry box,” she said. “It’s too small for me now.”