It's a distinctive, chunky gold ring, with a red stone inset, and the words "Holy Cross High School" are set into the metal around the stone. And it was found last month by Mike Counter, who works for St Norbert College in De Pere, Wisconsin as head of media relations, and who also is a keen metal detectorist.
He was using his metal detector near Fox River, behind one of the college's halls of residence, when he got a signal that was slightly stronger than the usual beeps given off by the zinc pennies he'd been finding so far. So he began digging and there, under around 4 or 5 inches of soil, was the sparkly golden treasure. And to his delight, the name of the school was not the only inscription on the ring. It also had a date - 1976 - and 3 initials.
I saw the initials ‘JRD’ and thought I’m going to go home and dig up a little history, do a little work on it. That’s the part of metal detecting I love, the history part of it. You find things, you don’t know exactly what they are or where they came from and you wonder who dropped it and things like that. - Mike Counter
Turning from detectorist to detective, he set to work, only to discover that the school named on the ring had closed down in 2004. It had merged with a preparatory school (Guerin), but that too had shut in 2020. However, after speaking with a researcher at his work, Counter was able to find the name of Sister Jeanne Hagelskamp, of the Sisters of Providence of St. Mary-of-the-Woods, who had run the Guerin preparatory school and held its school records.
Hagelskamp did, indeed, have records of the students who attended Holy Cross High School in 1976. And only one of those students had the initials JRD. His name was John Daciolas, and he had been in touch with Guerin in 2018, so there were recent contact details on file. Sister Jeanne emailed him out of the blue, and he was able to confirm that - yes - the ring Counter had found was his class ring, lost 45 years previously.
He'd been walking back to his dorm in the snow with friends when one of his friends had tumbled over and, in helping her back up, he had lost the ring in the snow. Despite hunting for it in the snow that night and again when the snow had melted, there was no sign, and he believed the ring had been lost forever.
Daciolas was touched and grateful that Counter had investigated the ring's history and tracked him down to return it. Mike Counter shipped the ring back to Daciolas last week, so chances are that it's now back on his finger - a mere 45 years after it slipped off into the Chicago snow.