My Calvin class ring was lost in the summer of 1963. We were at a family gathering in Pinery Park in Wyoming, Michigan. Back then it was common to exchange class rings when “going steady” with somebody. My boyfriend, Leon DeLange, was wearing my ring, and I was wearing his.

The ring came off his finger during a softball game, but he did not realize until later that it was gone. We looked and looked, but never found it. I figured it had probably been stepped on and pushed into the soil.

I graduated in 1964, and Leon and I were married the next year.

On June 30, 54 years since losing my ring, I got a phone call from Jose Espindola. Jose’s hobby is metal detecting. He explained that he had found my Calvin College class ring buried underground and had set out to find me to return the ring. The initials in the ring—SVP for Shirley VanPolen ’64, my maiden name— were the major clue in helping find me, the rightful owner, he said. He had searched the class records at the Hekman Library and found I was the only “SVP” graduate of 1964.

He wanted to give me back the ring and show me the exact spot where he had discovered it. We arranged to meet at Pinery Park in Wyoming, Michigan, the next Saturday. After meeting Jose and his wife, they showed us where the ring had been buried. Jose then gave the ring to Leon, instructing him to give it back to me.

I was sure my ring was gone forever; it was buried nearly four inches underground. Jose is a special person. He could have easily kept the ring, but to return it to the owner is a very special thing to do. The ring cleaned up nicely and is ready to wear again.