Thursday, December 02, 1999

34-year-old memory lost, found in sewer

Crew finds Michigan man's ring

The Cincinnati Enquirer

Robert Williams displays his ring, rescued from a Cincinnati sewer after being lost for 34 years.
| ZOOM |
        In the waste that fills Cincinnati's sewers, workers found a Detroit man's long-lost treasure.

        It was about 1965 when the college ring of Robert Williams was stolen from his Michigan home. The gold ring was a reminder of all his hard work at the Lawrence Institute of Technology in Detroit, as well as the time he served in the Korean War.

        After 34 years, he had lost hope of it ever being recovered.

        But the retired structural design consultant now wears the ring with pride. It was returned to him in late October, after it was discovered in July by a crew of Cincinnati sewer workers.

        “Fantastic,” Mr. Williams told officials at his alma mater when he got his ring back. The blue stone still shines. His initials and graduation date are engraved along with the name of his alma mater.

        A crew of Metropolitan Sewer District workers was inspecting an 18-inch pipe in Madisonville.

        When gravel and debris are shoveled out of sewers, “You

        find all kinds of interesting stuff,” inspector Rahn Wuest said.

        The next day crew leader Dave Edwards gave him a ring that workers found while shoveling the debris into a dumptruck. Mr. Wuest began tracing its origins.

        The only clues were a set of initials “RDW” engraved on the side, the school name “Lawrence Institute of Technology” and a “1957” date.

        Mr. Wuest traced the suburban Detroit private school from its origins in Highland Park to nearby Southfield, where it is now known as Lawrence Technological University. He then contacted Bruce Annett, the university's director of public affairs.

        Mr. Annett turned to alumni records, and scoured the names of 1957 graduates until he came across Mr. Williams. “We had a direct match,” Mr. Annett said.

        Mr. Williams, who now lives in the Detroit suburb of Bloomfield Township, started his engineering studies at Lawrence Tech in 1951, finishing in 1957 after serving in the military. He bought the gold ring just before graduation.

        “Getting my ring back makes me feel young,” Mr. Williams said.

        Mr. Wuest in October shipped the ring to Lawrence Tech, where Mr. Williams picked it up. Battered as it was, Mr. Annett said, the ring “certainly looked beautiful” to him.

        After 34 years, he has a bit of his history back. How it got to Cincinnati, though, remains a mystery.

        “I don't think there are any connecting pipes ...,” Mr. Annett said.

        Phillip Pina contributed to this report.


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