Teresa Winter isn’t sure exactly when she lost her class ring, but it was likely sometime in 1993. And she was probably on horseback.
“At that time, my husband and I had horses,” said Winter, a 1977 graduate of Missouri Southern who now lives in Neosho. “We did a lot of riding up around Greenfield, Stockton Lake and that vicinity.
“I didn’t know when I lost it, but I noticed it was missing sometime later. I couldn’t put anything together as far as where we were and when I might have lost it. I figured it was long gone.”
Nearly three decades later, Winter has been reunited with the ring after a stranger who found it several years ago began taking a closer look at the inscription on the inside of it.
Charles Goodwater lived in the Stockton area from the early ‘80s until 2017 when he moved to Audubon, Iowa. He found the ring near Stockton Lake several years ago, and it was obvious that time hadn’t been kind to it.
“The ring had cracked,” he said. “There was a name engraved inside the ring. I could read the first name but not the whole thing.”
Having set it aside, he picked it up again recently and took a closer look to try and decipher the name. Thinking he had it figured out, he contacted the university’s Alumni Association to see if they could connect him with Winter.
Unable to find an up-to-date telephone number, the center’s assistant director, Meagan Adams, went online to see if she could find an address and then mailed a letter to her.
Winter said she was amazed the letter made it to her mailbox. Having majored in elementary education at MSSU, she had taught fourth-grade in East Newton for a number of years and later worked in a veterinary clinic.
“I was shocked she found this address,” she said. “We had moved away from the area and just moved back home to Neosho a few years ago.
“Meagan gave me (Goodwater’s) number and we contacted him. He’s a very nice gentleman and offered to have it fixed for me. I told him I appreciated it, but my brother-in-law is a jeweler and could fix the band.”
Having the ring back in her possession and repairs made, Winter said its return is an “irreplaceable gift.”
“God’s hand was in this,” she said. “A lot of things came together to make it work.”
Goodwater said he was happy to help reunite the ring with its rightful owner.
“I always wanted to get the ring back to its owner, and hoped she was still having a good life,” he said.