Wilmington Woman Reunited with Ring

WILMINGTON -- Nearly 30 years ago, Rita Rich lost her high school ring.

Wednesday -- after many twists and turns -- she finally got it back.

After graduating from Hoggard High School in 1970, Rich married a soldier. The military moved the family around and abroad.

In 1977, the Rich family landed in Ft. Jackson, near Columbia, S.C. When she unpacked her bags and boxes, some special items were missing.

"When I opened up my jewelry box, my rings weren't there," Rich said.

She figured the rings, including her class ring, were gone forever -- lost to thieving movers.

Then, 13 years later, the class ring found its way into the honest hands of fellow Hoggard Viking Mark Wade, who was working in Barnwell County, S.C.

Wade now teaches science at Williston Middle School, but for years, he's been on a personal quest to find the owner of the ring a student gave him in 1990.

He checked school records and tried to pull her file, but says it wasn't there.

The search led Wade back to the New Hanover County Library on Monday where, with the help of local historians, he was able to track down Rich's birth records and marriage records. Finally, the search was over.

"They did phone numbers and they found a matching number in Brunswick County and handed me the phone," Wade said.

That phone call led to an emotional reunion in the parking lot of Burger King on Third Street in Wilmington, where Rich finally ripped open an envelope to discover the ring she had lost so many years ago.

Reported by Nicole Ferguson