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Lost & Found: Two Davidson Class Rings Come Home

Tiffany Ashe '03 shows her found class ring
Tiffany Ashe's class ring made its way from a gas station parking lot to the college, and then to Tiffany. Ashe is a 2003 alumna.

Tiffany Ashe '03 lost her class ring a decade ago, when she stopped for gas on the way to graduate school at the College of William and Mary. Distraught, she searched her car high and low in that convenience store parking lot off of I-95—alas, to no avail.

Billy Benson '90 lost his class ring more than two decades ago, a young lawyer on a trip through Alabama doing title searches. Like Tiffany, he soon gave up hope of finding it.

Now the two long-lost rings have made their respective journeys home.

Ashe's ring, the younger one, took the old-school route. First, it arrived on campus in an envelope marked "Davidson College, Davidson, N.C.," with a brief, handwritten note: "To whom it may concern: I found this ring at the Thornburg, Virginia, exit on I-95 several years ago..."

The ring made its way through several Davidson administrative offices and ultimately back to Ashe, now a school psychologist in Maryland. It's quite bent and scratched from being run over in that parking lot, but she's thrilled to have it back.

"I bought it myself senior year," Ashe said.

Benson's ring took a more circuitous route.

Billy Benson '90 shows his found class ring
Thanks to detective work by a good Samaritan, Billy Benson '90 got his ring back after more than two decades.

One summer day, the sister of a woman named Kristi Joiner was cleaning out the store safe at Russell Athletic in Anderson City, Alabama, which was going out of business. There in the back of the safe was a Davidson signet ring, inscribed William H. Benson III. She didn't know what to do with it, so she gave it to Kristi's husband, Jimmy, who also worked at the store.

"He said, 'If anybody can find the owner of that ring, it'll be Kristi,'" said Kristi Joiner by phone. "He thinks I'm nosy, that's why."

Nosy or not, she found Benson.

First, she went down one dead end: When she called a Florida law firm with his surname listed as a partner, she was politely informed that Mr. Benson was deceased. Oops.

Happily, Joiner reached a "live" end of the story on her next try. She Googled Davidson College and soon discovered the college's online cache of Quips and Cranks annuals. She clicked over to 1990 and found his picture. Then, farther back in the yearbook, she found a congratulatory ad signed by his family members. From there, she tracked his sister down on Facebook, and the rest is history.

"If it had been me that lost it, I would've wanted someone else to get it back to me," Joiner said. "It's God that did it."

Benson, who remembers stopping off in the Russell Athletic store in between long-ago business appointments, is grateful.

"When I first called her back, she really interrogated me, to make sure it was mine. She asked me my full name and where I went to college," Benson said. "I can't thank her enough."

John Syme
josyme@davidson.edu
704-894-2523