January 19, 2008
Tonight, we got together at Coaches to return Larry Medford's ring to his family. Gary, his brother, was there to accept it on behalf of the family. It was a very heartwarming
experience to know this ring had come from half way around the world, just to get back home to the family. We will never know the story of its travels.
Ring completes circle of life
The Norman Transcript
January 20, 2008
Transcript Staff Writer
Meghan McCormick 366-3539
Peggy Clark Smith & Gary Medford
It was late 1979 in South Devon England, when Ted Boswell and his family headed out for a day at the beach along the stretch of coast between Mothecombe and Bigbury Bay.
That day, Boswell said he and his son decided to take a break from playing football and explore the rock pools left at the low tide. As the father and son skimmed through the pools, they found a class ring with a Norman High School inscription caught in an outcrop of rocks.
"The ring was caught in a small rock that stood no more than a foot high out of the sand," Boswell said. "I joked to the children that it could belong to Lord Lucan. You might know that he was the English peer who disappeared mysteriously in 1974, after the murder of his children's nanny."
Boswell said he took the ring home and hoped he would be able to reunite it with its owner. The ring was engraved with "John Roberts and L.M. 1,000."
The man believed it was the owner's name and the latter referred to the manufacturing company.
"At the time I worked for an American company and I asked an acquaintance in America if he could trace a John Roberts, who was a former student at Norman High.?No contact was made, so the ring was put away and forgotten about," he said.
The memento stayed in an "odds and ends" box in Boswell's kitchen for almost three decades until one day in November when he and his wife came across it as they took on a remodeling project.
Thanks to advances in technology and a local woman's decision to create a Web page dedicated to her alma mater, Boswell was finally able to learn just who John Roberts was and his connection to Norman High School's class of 1969.
"We went on to the Internet on November 2007 and I saw it as a good opportunity to trace the owner of the ring," Boswell said.?"So I Googled Norman High and Peggy's Web site came up.?At first I was looking for a John Roberts, but fortunately Peggy Clark Smith had just set up a class of '69 Web site so I made contact with her."
Smith said she created the Web page to keep in touch with classmates. Next year, the group will celebrate its 40th high school reunion, and Smith is in charge of keeping an address listing of graduates.
The woman had no clue that within a month's time the Web page she founded would help an English man link a class ring to its owner.
"On Dec. 17, I got an e-mail from a man in England saying he had found a Norman High School class of 1969 ring." Smith said. "He sent pictures of this class ring and said he had found it in the late '70s on a beach in England."
After studying the pictures, Smith was sure of one thing.
"I knew it was one of ours," she said referring to the keepsake.
Smith explained to Boswell that John Roberts wasn't a classmate, but instead the former Norman manufacturing company which designed and made the rings. Once she was given the initials L.M., she narrowed the search to two men.
She said she phoned the first gentleman and indeed he had lost his ring. But after he gave a description, she learned the stone set in his ring was blue, not red like the one Boswell found.
Smith said soon after their conversation ended, she suspected the lost ring might belong to fellow classmate Larry Medford.
There was just one problem.
In April 1987, Medford suffered a massive heart attack and died at age 36. At the time of his death he left behind a wife and two children Amanda, 8, and Larry Dell Jr., 4.
Smith said she took the next step and found his brother, Gary Medford because she knew Larry graduated with his twin sister, Linda Stephens, who might be able to claim the ring.
"I didn't know how I was going to bring it up," she said. "Some families are very sensitive many years after losing a loved one."
Smith said the brother was unaware Medford purchased a class ring, but he gave Smith his sister's contact information. Shortly thereafter, it was confirmed that Medford was the ring's owner.
His 81-year-old mother who suffers from Alzheimer's disease, knew the inscription inside the ring, L.M. 1,000, and told them what it symbolized.
"He worked 100 hours for his dad at a service station in order to get the money to pay for the ring and said it was like working 1,000," Smith said.
Both Medford sons worked for their father at Medford's Texaco at 2550 W. Main Street.
Smith said she e-mailed Boswell with the good news. He agreed to send the ring to Smith.
By Saturday night, the memento was back where it belonged. Smith met Gary Medford at Coach's Restaurant and Brewery to deliver the ring.
"It's fantastic, just to know that someone from across the world sent an e-mail and I was able to help him connect and get it back," she said. "I just wish Larry was here to get it back himself."
Medford said he was stunned when Smith called him last month and passed on the news about the ring.
"I first of all couldn't believe it," he said.
Both he and his sister have decided they would like for their nephew Larry Dell Jr. to have the ring.
Medford said there could be dozens of explanations for how the ring ended up in another country, but noted his brother was stationed in England during his military service.
"It's just one of those things that shows you how small the world really is," he said.
Boswell said he's thrilled the ring is back in Norman with the Medfords.
"I am so pleased that the Medford family have a treasured memento returned," he said. "The final contact with the Medford's was made by Peggy on my birthday Dec. 19 which was cause for a double celebration."
Stephens wasn't able to attend the gathering Saturday evening. In a phone interview, she said she and her twin brother shared a close relationship growing up.
"There's a closeness with a twin that cannot be described," she said.
Stephens moved to Texas after graduating high school nearly 39 years ago. She resides in Wylie, Texas, but visits her hometown frequently.
The sister said she believes her brother would be at peace knowing his ring has been returned to his family after all this time.
"I think he would be very grateful that someone took the time to return his ring with all of the years and miles between," she said.
Stephens described her twin brother as an "electronic genius" and said that his talent was recognized by the United States Army after he was drafted in 1971. He served his country as an electronics specialist and primarily worked on aircraft.
"He served four years. He traveled all over the world in the Army," the sister said.
At the time of his death, the brother lived in Conroe, Texas, where he was buried.
Stephens said she considers the ring an early present for her and her younger brother. Medford will celebrate his birthday Jan. 28 and Stephens will turn a year older Feb. 5.
"This is like a birthday to me and my brother Gary to be able to honor Larry," she said.