1951 Michigan class ring mystery solved
Royal Oak — Just weeks after his wife’s death, a 1951 Royal Oak High School graduate has been reunited with a class ring he gave her when they were dating 66 years ago.
Ronald F. Birou, 85, of Bonita Springs, Florida, learned the news from his daughter, Laura Birou, after the Royal Oak Historical Society Museum posted a pictured of the ring in the history mystery. A Royal Oak man found the ring with a metal detector buried on the grounds of a parochial school in neighboring Birmingham, The Daily Tribune reported.
Birou’s wife Beverly died Feb. 8.
“She just died recently,” he said of his late wife. “That’s why this is a miracle. I looked at this as a sign from her that everything is OK. It’s just too much of a coincidence to be anything else.”
Birou dated Beverly for a couple of years before they were married. His recovered class ring brought back memories.
“Her name then was Beverly Cougler and she lived in Ferndale and went to Hazel Park High School,” Birou said. “We met at a Methodist Youth Fellowship meeting in Ferndale and fell in love immediately … I miss her. God bless her soul, she was a great girl.”
Muriel Versagi, curator of the historical museum, said the ring was found by John Newman of Royal Oak and had the initials R.F.B. inscribed inside.
The hunt for the owner started. Versagi and others went through the museum’s class yearbooks and found the names of five men whose initials were possible matches from the January and June graduating classes of 1951.
“Unfortunately, there were no middle initials with the names,” Versagi said. The museum posted the names of the five potential owners looking for clues, not knowing if they were still alive.
Royal Oak’s city Facebook page posted a notice and another resident, Lizzie Thrushman, emailed the Historical Society after she found a Ronald F. Birou, formerly of Michigan and living in Florida. Thrushman had contacted Birou’s daughter. Responding to the same post, Newman, who found the ring, said he had also messaged Birou’s daughter and received confirmation as well.
Versagi spoke with Birou’s daughter Laura as well.
“Her dad had been so sad” since his wife died, Versagi said. “Then she told him about the ring being found.”
Newman, a metal detecting hobbyist said he found Birou’s class ring late last year before the holidays and unsuccessfully tried to track down the owner.
He finally went to the historical museum Saturday, believing it would have better materials for the search.
Wednesday morning, Newman talked to Birou by phone.
“He said he feels grateful I was able to return the ring to him,” said Newman, 40. “I think it gives him a bit of comfort and closure from something that once was, many years ago. Most of the time I find old coins and rubbish. It’s really amazing to be able to offer somebody something that is so meaningful to them at such a painful time in their life.”
The ring was shipped overnight to Birou on Wednesday.
But a small mystery still remains for Birou, even after he was married to Beverly for more than six decades.
“I don’t think she ever told me she lost the ring,” Birou said. “That was kind of a shocker.”