MERIDEN — A bit of dogged online sleuthing by a city librarian and a local woman helped solve the 44-year old disappearance of a class ring and return it to its rightful owner.
Douglas Coombs found the 1978 Platt High School ring in his attic at 193 Stephen Drive. When Coombs died, the ring was in a box of belongings passed to his daughter Denise Lowell, who decided it was time to return the ring to its rightful owner. Her only clues were the graduation date and the initials “LL” inscribed inside the band. She also assumed the person had once lived at 193 Stephen Drive.
“I had searched before with no luck. I said ‘somebody has to have a yearbook,’’’ Lowell said.
Lowell contacted the Meriden Public Library and connected with Research Librarian Gerald Maust.
The library had recently completed digitizing all its local high school yearbooks into an easy to search data base. Maust ruled out male students because none had the initials “LL.” He whittled down the possible owners to four former female students and shared the information with Lowell.
Lowell and Maust used Google and social media profiles to eliminate possible matches. Within a few hours Lowell found Lynne Levesque, whose profile revealed she had lived in Meriden, graduated Platt High School in 1978 and now lived in Texas. But there was no phone number.
Another puzzle was that the home address where the Platt ring was found was in the Maloney High School district area.
Lowell found a sister among Levesque’s Facebook friends and contacted Denise Kalkstein through her Farmington business.
“I said ‘I’m trying to find your sister, because I have her ring,’” Lowell said. “Kalkstein said her sister had lost her ring, and that her parents built (the Stephen Drive) house. It was after they graduated that they moved to the Maloney area.”
Lowell met with Kalkstein this week to deliver the ring, and it was shipped to Texas.
“It’s just bizarre,” Levesque said. “I’m in the process of downsizing and going through all my jewelry and said ‘dang, I hate that I lost my high school ring.’ All I can remember is I lost it, I thought it might have been stolen or I might have lost it in swim classes. I didn’t even know that house had an attic.”
Levesque said there are plenty of coincidences in the discovery. Lowell shares the same first name as her sister and their parents lived in the same house. Levesque looks forward to thanking Lowell personally.
“It’s a small world, but wonderful on her part to do all the research and find me,” Levesque said. “I’ll probably stare at it, clean it and put it with my college rings. It’s been 44 years.”
The majority of research requests they library receives are genealogy related, or people trying to identify a certain location, Maust said.
“We don’t always get these crazy gratifying things that fall together in one day,” Maust said. “She (Lowell) has internet stalking down to a science. I gave her this little bit of information and within 12 hours she found this woman in Texas. This one was just fun.”
Library staff have helped the community with other discoveries. They identified and returned a headstone that was uncovered during the demolition of the Mills Memorial Apartments. Maust dug up a news article about a 1960s era car crash for the son of the driver trying to restore his father’s Thunderbird.
“In Meriden, if you’re not sure who to talk to you call the library,” Maust said.