The following story originally appeared in as an online exclusive for the W&M Alumni Magazine. – Ed.
Digging around between the seats of her car, looking for a missing key fob, Katelyn Manigly made an interesting discovery — a long-lost William & Mary class ring. In her car in Pennsylvania, she’d unexpectedly found the missing ring of Bruce Patterson ’80, which was lost somewhere in the Southeast 14 states or somewhere in the Midwest since 2012.
“I was not sure exactly when or where I lost it. For many years, I thought I had taken my ring off to work out at my local YMCA. I figured someone had taken it to the local pawn shop or sold it for the value of the gold and that I would never see it again,” says Patterson.
In reality, the ring was probably lost during one of his many business trips up and down the Southeast and in the Midwest where he would fly to a city and then rent a car — always through Hertz.
“My family bought the car many years ago, but I didn’t find the ring until I dropped a fob and moved around all the seats in the car. It just tumbled out,” says Mangily.
Mangily had purchased the car from her aunt who had purchased the car from a refurbishment company after it had been in a severe accident. The refurbishment company had purchased the car from Hertz. After over a decade, four owners and traveling from the Southeast or Midwest to Pennsylvania, the ring was finally discovered.
“I had long ago given up hope of getting the ring back. From time to time I would go on the current class ring vendor website to buy a new one, but they just weren’t the same or anywhere near as good. I really like the 1980 design of the signet ring,” says Patterson. “I wore the ring every day and repeatedly received compliments on it. It was a great conversation starter about William & Mary.”
In his four decades since graduation, Patterson has stayed closely connected to William & Mary. As he moved to various locations, he became the founder and president of the Triad (Winston-Salem/Greensboro/High Point) North Carolina Chapter, a member of the board of directors of the W&M D.C. Metro Network and a member of the board of directors of the W&M Atlanta Network. He is currently on the Annual Giving Board and serves as chairman of the board’s Participation Committee.
After Manigly found the ring, it sat on a shelf in her house for many months.
“One day, I decided to pick it up to look at it closely, that’s when I noticed an engraving on the inside,” says Manigly.
In 1980, when he bought the ring, Patterson decided to customize the ring with his first name, last name and middle initial on the inside of the ring. Since he wore it every day, parts of the engraving faded beyond recognition. However, enough was left to make out “Bruce W P.” At that point, Manigly reached out to the W&M Alumni Association.
“Good thing there weren’t any other Bruce W.P.s in the Class of 1980,” jokes Patterson. “When the Alumni Association first reached out to me, they did so in an email. The subject line was “Did You Lose Your Class Ring? So, I initially thought it was an advertisement. Then, when I opened it up and read it, I was dumbfounded. I immediately responded that I had lost mine, many years ago.”
After that, Manigly and Patterson connected. The ring was finally reunited with its owner and a new friendship was formed.
Without the ring, it is unlikely that they would have ever crossed paths. Manigly is in her 20s and a registered behavioral technician from Valley Forge, Pennsylvania. Patterson is a health care and life science consultant from the Detroit metropolitan area but currently living in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.
“To say thank you, I offered to fly her anywhere in the United States. I hope she takes me up on it. I just want to do something to express my gratitude,” says Patterson. Manigly will be flying to Charleston, South Carolina, for a vacation in the not-too-distant future.