LBHS class memento returned to owner after 24 years


RenéRolf Martin’s class ring is back home again. Photo courtesy Debbie Bair

RenéRolf Martin’s class ring is back home again. Photo courtesy Debbie Bair

By Marcy Stamper

How does a class ring get from the heat vents of a pick-up truck in Marysville to its former owner in Quincy? Well, via Idaho, of course. Oh, and it takes about 24 years to make the trip.

Liberty Bell High School graduate RenéRolf Martin (class of 1982) was cleaning out his pick-up in 1990 when his old school ring dropped into the air ducts of the truck’s heater. Martin, who lived in Marysville at the time (north of Everett), said he thought nothing of it. “I didn’t try to take it apart. I knew it would be one heck of a job,” he said this week from his home in Quincy.

Martin had completely forgotten about the ring and its awkward disappearance until he got a call from an old school friend about a week ago, urging him to check Facebook, where there was a message urging him to call his alma mater, and saying something about a lost object, he said.

“What in the world did I lose?” Martin asked himself.

Gina Johnson of Spokane had an answer to that. About two weeks ago, Johnson was helping her mother pack for a move from Clarkston, Wash., to Spokane when she came across the ring while boxing up her mother’s belongings.

Johnson’s mother, Jacque Mumaw, told her daughter she found the ring about four years ago on the ground next to a dumpster when she worked at a trucking company in Lewiston, Idaho, just across the state line from Clarkston. Mumaw also soon forgot about her find.

Johnson decided to see if she could track down the owner—the initials “RRM” were engraved inside the band—and easily found Liberty Bell High, which is embossed in an oval around the blue stone on the ring. She reached Debbie Bair, the secretary at Liberty Bell, who was tickled by the story and happy to try to reconnect the ring with its former owner.

Johnson sent the ring—in a fluorescent-pink, puffy envelope—to Bair. With just 40 in the graduating class of 1982, doing the detective work in the yearbook to match the senior to those initials was not hard, said Bair. Bair called several of Martin’s classmates who still live in the Methow, and one put a message on her Facebook page, asking Martin to call the school, said Bair.

RenéRolf Martin’s photo from the 1982 Liberty Bell High School yearbook.

RenéRolf Martin’s photo from the 1982 Liberty Bell High School yearbook.

Less than an hour later, Bair got a call from Martin and confirmed the ring was his. “It blew my mind,” said Martin. “Who found it, how and where?”

Tracing the circuitous path of the ring until it resurfaced in Mumaw’s dresser drawer is less straightforward. Martin said he moved to Soap Lake in the 1990s and traded in the pickup in at an auto dealership in Moses Lake, probably in 1995 or 1996. “That’s the last I saw of the car,” he said.

Martin was active in concert, pep and stage bands at Liberty Bell, and played football and basketball. He moved out of the Methow Valley in 1989. Covering long distances has been a theme in his life—he has worked in Oregon and California as well as Washington, and traveled quite a bit in Europe. Martin worked as a long-distance trucker for about six years, but is relieved to drive a more-local route now, from Quincy to Seattle.

“I told Gina she recognized something important in a person’s life—she was a little angel,” said Bair, who wore her own class ring for 35 years, until the stone became loose. It was always a conversation starter, she said. Bair said she remembers Martin from when he lived in the valley, and saw him a few years ago in Wenatchee.

“I’m really thankful they did find it—it’s a real blessing, and a heck of a shock,” said Martin.