By Linda Scherer
WINSTED, MN As a senior at Howard Lake-Waverly High School in 1982, Liz (O’Loughlin) Young of Winsted was anxious to get on with the rest of her life.
She didn’t have time to wait for her spring graduation ceremony, but as soon as she knew she had enough credits to receive her diploma, she began to make plans to move out of state.
When she packed her belongings in February 1982, she believed her class ring had been put inside her jewelry box in preparation for the move. It was the last time she would see her ring until February 2011.
The ring had been purchased in the fall of her senior year.
“It’s lustrium, not a precious metal,” Young said. “It was one of the cheaper rings, but still, back then, it was a little bit of money and the idea of getting a class ring was pretty cool.”
The ring also had sentimental value because her mother, Roslyn (Gilmer) Kelm, a 1962 Howard Lake graduate, had given up her gold class ring so Young could buy hers.
“She was willing to trade it in,” Young said. “She would do anything for us kids.”
Never thinking about the ring again until several months later, Young made plans to move to Texas with a girlfriend who had friends that lived there.
“I wanted to see the world,” Young said. “We went down to Texas and from there, we were going to figure out what we wanted to do with our lives. We wanted to travel before we went to school.”
What Young didn’t count on was meeting Dennis Young, who was in the Army and stationed in Texas. Four days after she met him, Dennis asked her to marry him, and the couple were married in May 1982.
“I was able to travel,” Young said. “It just ended up that I got married and then I traveled,” Young said.
Before traveling to Washington state, Germany, twice; and Superior, WI, the couple lived in Texas for awhile.
“One day I was wondering, ‘what ever happened to my class ring?’” Young said. “I had a jewelry box when I had left home and it (the ring) wasn’t in there, so I figured I must have just lost it. It could have been anytime before or after the move to Texas.”
With Dennis’ military days behind them, in 1995, the couple with their two sons, Dennis who was 12 years old at the time, and Eric who was 7 years old, moved back to Winsted.
They had been looking for a home in the area when they discovered the home of Young’s grandparents, Russell and Luella Gilmer in Winsted, was for sale and they bought it.
Currently, Dennis is a computer tech who does computer support from home.
Young is currently working at Lakeview Clinic in Norwood Young America.
Their two sons, who are HLWW graduates, now live in St. Cloud.
One class ring found
One day, in February of this year, Young received a phone message at Lakeview Clinic from Lenora Kubasch, of Winsted.
Young knew Lenora and Gordy Kubasch because at one time, the Kubaschs had been her grandparents’ neighbors.
“The call was kind of cryptic,” Young said, “She said, ‘I had a call from somebody who has something you lost.’”
Lenora’s phone call to Young was the last in a series of contacts made to try and find out what had happened to Liz O’Loughlin since her graduation.
The search began when Kirk Neese of Appleton, WI, contacted Howard Lake-Waverly-Winsted (HLWW) Principal Mike Day, telling him he had found Young’s class ring at a rummage sale in Wisconsin.
Day passed the information on to HLWW secretary Mary Robinson.
“With the year on the ring and the initials inside the ring, it’s simple to find the name of the student,” Robinson said.
“If the parents or other family members live in the area, we just call. This one was a little more difficult. There weren’t any O’Loughlins listed in the local phone books.”
When Robinson ran into the roadblock, Day remembered that there had been a karate instructor in Winsted by that name.
It was through a karate club member that they learned Young’s location, and long-time Winsted resident, Lenora Kubasch knew how to contact her.
Today, Young’s class ring is back in her jewelry box.
Neese was contacted to let him know his mission was successful.
“It was a pretty cool feeling when you do something like this and you find the owner,” Neese said.
He had spent several hours searching the Internet with a school name, the abbreviations of the original owner, and the year of graduation.
“I can’t tell you exactly how or where I found the link, but it paid off,” Neese said.
Finding the ring’s owner was important for Neese, who had sold his class ring many years ago and regretted it.
“When I look back now and I don’t have my class ring or letter jacket, it is a bit sad,” Neese said.
“I have three daughters and two step-children that I watched grow up and go to school, and I still have stuff from their kindergarten to graduation in a couple of bins,” Neese said.
He is hoping that someday, when he gives them the treasured keepsakes he has collected for them, they will appreciate it.
“The world seems almost chaotic at times, and throwing some positives out there can’t hurt. I hope the person that got it (the ring) back is smiling,” Neese said.
Young was smiling as she showed off her class ring and she was glad she had paid extra to have her initials put on it.
She also appreciated the effort made by Neese to return the ring.
“It’s nice to see there are good people out there yet, who would go through so much trouble,” Young said.