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Full Circle: Forty-five years later, a class ring comes home.


Jeffrey Falkin ’65 (1965 Cornellian)

Jeffrey Falkin ’65 was merging onto a highway outside Washington, D.C., in rush-hour traffic when he was rear-ended. He wasn’t hurt, but his car was totaled—and his Cornell class ring, which had been a bit loose to begin with, flew off his finger. Later he went back to look for it, to no avail. “I couldn’t find it, and gave up,” he says. “I figured it was lost forever.”

Flash forward forty-five years. The ring, lost in 1969, is back on Falkin’s finger, having taken a circuitous route through the South. Where it was all these years is a bit of a mystery

Falkin owes the reunion to one Virginia Babb, a ninety-yearold resident of Bradenton, Florida. The ring, Babb explains, was found among the possessions of her late ex-son-in-law, an avid collector. A while back she decided it would be nice to return it to its owner, and last June she enlisted her grandson, a student at Wheaton College, to help her contact the University. (“I’m not too technology-savvy,” Babb admits.) He sent an e-mail with photos, and Alumni Affairs was quickly able to match the inscription to a member of the Class of ’65: Falkin, a retired attorney and ILR alum. Staffer Lauren Morgenstern left phone messages, did some Google sleuthing, and months later got a reply. It turned out that Falkin —who splits his time between downtown Philadelphia and Delray Beach, Florida—hadn’t checked his voicemail at the southern residence. “When he called back it was so exciting— he was so amazed and happy,” Morgenstern recalls. “I told him, ‘You’ve got to come to your 50th Reunion now. It’s a sign.’ ”

Band on the run: More than four decades after Jeffrey Falkin '65 lost his class ring, a ninety-year-old Floridian returned it to him.

Band on the run: More than four decades after Jeffrey Falkin ’65 lost his class ring, a ninety-year-old Floridian returned it to him.

Babb cleaned the ring and mailed it to Falkin in Philly; he sent a small honorarium by way of thanks. “It still fits,” he says. “Actually, it fits better.” One curious fact: it shows considerably more wear than when Falkin lost it, so someone (not, Babb says, her relative) must’ve worn it regularly. “You wonder where it was and what happened to it during the last forty-five years,” Falkin muses. Says Morgenstern: “If the ring could talk, that would be a good story.”

Such happy ending tales are one reason why Judy Shekell, Cornell’s longtime sales rep with the class ring company Balfour, recommends that buyers have their full names engraved inside— or, at the very least, their initials. Rings remain popular with Big Red grads, she says, and Balfour (the University’s official supplier) continues to do a brisk business through the Cornell Store and at Reunion. Styles range from a simple signet to a vintage model known as the A.D. White—featuring a flat, square stone embossed with a “C”—to the familiar class ring with a faceted stone, dubbed the Legend. “It shows your alliance with your school,” Shekell says. “You want to show the world that you’re part of the Cornell community and you’re proud of it. You can’t wear your diploma—so why not a beautiful ring?”