July 17, 2008

From Oklahoma and Missing a Ring? I May Have News

FOUND: One high school class ring (from Oklahoma).

WANTED: The rightful owner who can claim it with proper identification.

I have in my possession a high school ring that doesn't belong to me, and I can only assume that it meant as much to someone as my class rings meant to me.

My I.M. Terrell High School ring (with the panther head on one side) and my college ring from what is now the University of North Texas were stolen in a burglary of my apartment many years ago.

To this day, those are the only items I remember being taken, although I think the intruders got a stereo, TV and perhaps some other electronic items and jewelry.

But the most valuable things _ the most irreplaceable and most sentimental items _ that the thieves took were those rings.

Both graduation mementos had my name engraved in them and for years I thought/wished/prayed that someone would find them in some musty pawn shop, recognize the name and return them. I was even prepared to pay a reward _ more than either was worth in actual dollars.

It never happened, and I long ago gave up hope of ever seeing them again.

That's why I'm determined to get the ring in my desk drawer back to its rightful owner. Surely he misses it.

A few weeks ago, as one of my colleagues was cleaning out his desk on the next-to-the-last day on the job, he told me the story of the ring.

He found it in the street about three years ago near First United Methodist Church in downtown Fort Worth. It had gravel and asphalt encrusted between some of the lettering.

Alan Cochrum, the colleague who was a longtime copy editor for our Editorial Department, said he had done some preliminary searching, and thought he had figured out the state where the high school was located but never got past that in his investigation.

He entrusted the ring to me with the distinct message that I should take up the mission he had not accomplished.

An Internet search of the name inside the ring _ Mark Sewell _ was not helpful, so I took other clues from the intricate designs on the outside.

The silver-looking ring has the words "Union High" engraved around a purplish stone. The year "1980" is split, appearing on either side. Under "19" there are a couple of crossed flags, three eagles' heads and the Liberty Bell, with the year 1776. On the opposite side is pictured a Native American in full headdress, which I figured to be the school mascot and would be a key to the search.

I'm looking for a school with Indians or Braves or something similar as its proud symbol.

I quickly learned that there are many Union high schools around the country, including Union High in La Porte City, Iowa, whose mascot is the Knights; Union Township, N.J. (the Farmers); and the Union County High School "Fighting Yellow Jackets" in Union, S.C., just to name a few.

Then I came across a Union High in Tulsa, Okla. It had an extensive Web site, where I came across the reference to its mascot in the lyrics of the school fight song:

"Union Redskins, hats off to thee

"To our colors true will ever be,

"Firm and strong united are we.

"Rah, rah, rah, rah

"Rah, rah, rah, rah

"Loyal to Union High."

Later I would notice that the mascot was mentioned at the very top of the home page, but I had overlooked it.

The passage read: "Say the word Redskin and you picture a never-say-die warrior who was the first in all our history; a brave and sturdy chief who looks after what he has and is eager to take on and conquer what is in the future."

Contacting the Tulsa school district, I learned that there's another district in town established in 1920 to cover the farm territory between Tulsa and Broken Arrow.

The area has grown so that the farm land is gone, making for one big metropolitan area served by the Union school district, including its large high school.

School receptionist Terry Farrier confirmed Tuesday that a Mark Sewell had graduated in 1980, but that was all she could give me under federal privacy guidelines.

She did say that she had passed along the name to someone else in the district who, if he could locate the man, would give him my contact information.

"We'll do the best we can," Farrier said.

That's all I can ask.

And if you know Mark, you do the same.



Bob Ray Sanders is a columnist for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Readers may write to him at: 400 W. 7th Street, Fort Worth, Texas 76102, or via e-mail at [email protected]


(c) 2008, Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

Visit the Star-Telegram on the World Wide Web: www.star-telegram.com.

Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.


PHOTO of Bob Ray Sanders available from the ``Columnist Mugs'' section of MCT Direct.

For reprints, email [email protected], call 800-374-7985 or 847-635-6550, send a fax to 847-635-6968, or write to The Permissions Group Inc., 1247 Milwaukee Ave., Suite 303, Glenview, IL 60025, USA.