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Updated 11:00 AM November 1, 2004




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  Lost and found
U-M-Flint ring returns to owner after three decades

Russ Braden, a member of the first graduating class of U-M-Flint in 1958, proudly wore his class ring for nearly two decades until he lost it in 1975 after visiting relatives on Flint's south side. He remembers returning to his home in Marysville, just south of Port Huron.
Russ Braden was reunited with his long-lost class ring, thanks to a helpful real-estate agent and his daughter, and an employee at U-M-Flint Alumni Records. "I had really given up hope of ever seeing it again," Braden says. (Photo by Mel Serow, U-M-Flint)

"I got home and all of a sudden noticed the ring was gone," says Braden, who majored in business and now is retired from Chrysler.

His story might have ended there if it weren't for the keen eye of a real-estate agent and some detective work by a U-M employee.

A couple of months ago, a group of real-estate agents was doing an inspection of a house that was just going on the market. It was in the same area where Braden's relatives had lived. John Deal of Swartz Creek was with the group, and he spotted an object next to a stairway.

"It looked like someone had just lost it," Deal says. "It was out in the open."

Deal told his daughter about finding the ring. She noticed that there were initials inside: R.J.B. She contacted the Alumni Records Office at the Ann Arbor campus, where Vincent Brattin took her call.

The ring contained enough information to help Brattin track down a possible owner in his database. It indicated not only the owner's initials but that he had received an A.B. degree and graduated in 1958.

"I found 10 people that potentially fit the bill. I finally got it down to two possibilities," Brattin says. "I did more research and found that one of them had died a few years ago. I contacted Russ Braden and told him about the ring.

"It's an amazing story," Brattin says.

Braden phoned Deal's daughter and made arrangement for her to send him the ring.

"I couldn't believe it when it finally arrived," Braden says. "It still had the ring guard that I had to put on it when my fingers were skinny."

Braden sent Deal a gift card to a local restaurant for finding the ring. He also went to the Alumni Records Office to personally thank Brattin for his help and to show him the ring.

After 29 years, it still looked good.

"You can't beat gold," Braden says. "I had really given hope of ever seeing it again. It's great that there are some nice people out there."

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