One Ring to Rule Them All

A 1982 Masuk High School class ring was recently discovered buried in a Long Island beach, and reunited with its owner after 43 years.

Editor’s Note: The following story by originally appeared in The Masuk Free Press on March 18, 2024 and is being re-published here with permission from Principal Steve Swensen. 

A Masuk High School class ring was recently discovered in the sands of a Long Island beach. Through a remarkable display of attention and care, this ring was reunited with its owner after 43 years apart.

Belinda Gilbert was on a vacation in Long Island when she stumbled across the ring: “Every morning I would walk on that beach and…I’m always looking for sea glass. I thought I found a very rare blue sea glass that I’ve been looking for for decades. I dug it out and it was that ring, which was crazy to me.”

She was surprised to find that the class ring was engraved with the year 1982, as Gilbert herself graduated in 1980.

“I thought, wow, this is either somebody who lost it so long ago that it’s going to be interesting to try to find them, or somebody who’s very sentimental about their high school, so they lost it recently,” she continued.

Gilbert then wasted no time before beginning the search for the ring’s owner.

The recovered class ring

“I brought it home with me to Philly and put it on Facebook, and my sister found the school website. I jumped on there and I emailed the principal, who was super receptive about the whole thing. He seemed psyched…I felt like I could trust him to figure it out,” she said.

After contacting Masuk principal Steven Swensen, he quickly joined the effort to track down the ring’s owner.

“I received the ring and Officer Larson was able to identify the initials inside, and we were able to determine who it was from the 1982 yearbook that we have. Then it was trying to figure out where Gwen Anderson is at this point in time,” said Swensen.

Swensen and Officer Brooke Larson then began their search for Gwen Anderson on the internet. They found that her married name was Bruno and, after an initial email, Larson managed to identify an address for the correct Gwen Bruno, with Swensen reaching out soon after.

“When I was looking at my email and I saw the subject line ‘lost item’ I was like, ‘what is this?’ I opened it up and it’s the principal from Masuk High School,” said Bruno. “And oh my god, when I heard that my high school ring had been found, I was excited and pretty in shock. I really thought it would never be found.”

Bruno lost the ring 43 years ago, the summer after she had received it.

“I would spend my summers out in Long Island and a group of us always hung out in boats and down on the beach…That day someone else came and we went out on their boat into the bay, and I put my ring on my necklace because I don’t want it to fall off my finger. Then on my way home I was feeling for my necklace and it was gone,” she explained. “I’m just shocked… It’s been a long time.”

Bruno’s senior yearbook photo

Returning the ring was no simple process, but those involved were ready and willing to help.

“I really wanted to get that ring back to the person. This was something that was very precious to the individual, that they probably never even in their wildest imagination thought they would be able to get back…I was happy to be a part of it,” Swensen said. “It’s incredible if you think about it, over 42 years ago she lost the ring and now she has it back. And the person who found it, Belinda Gilbert, to go so far out of her way, how many people would really do that in this day and age?”

Gilbert never hesitated to return the ring: “Right away, I was like, I’m going to get this back to its owner. I bet you I could do this, with technology and social media. But there was no debate. I didn’t want the ring. I wanted the ring to go back to the owner, and I wanted to know the story. I was just glad she was still around and could appreciate it.”

Bruno certainly appreciated receiving the ring, and the reminiscence it stirred.

“It brought back memories of being on the beach with all my friends and hanging out, and what fun times we used to have in the summer. And the principal sent a picture of my yearbook and transcripts, so it was cool to look over…Fun times at Masuk,” she said.

She was also grateful for the work that went into delivering the ring: “I tell the story to everyone. I’m so thankful, it’s great that there are nice people out there that do the right thing. It’s just a great feeling, and I’m happy to have that ring back!”

Through the combined efforts of Gilbert, Swensen and Larson, Bruno was thrilled to reclaim her Masuk class ring and, after years of uncertainty, give its story a happy ending.

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