The Return of the Ring:

After more than half a century, Hadwen Perry '52 is reunited with his Norwich ring

Calabrese and PerryEvery time Hadwen Perry '52 looks down at his right hand, he has to pinch himself to make sure he isn't dreaming. There, staring up at him, is an object he was separated from for 53 years - one that he was sure he would never lay eyes on again.

On June 22, Perry, who lives in South Dartmouth, Ma., received an unexpected phone call from Joseph M. Calabrese of West Springfield, saying he had been vacationing at Lake George and that he had found something he thought Perry would like to have back.

"I immediately blurted out, 'you have my Norwich class ring!'" said Perry, who had lost it swimming the spring of his junior year.

An avid boater, Calabrese spotted a flash of gold while snorkeling in about 10 feet of water, and came up with Perry's ring. After noting the name engraved on the inside, he tracked Perry down through the alumni office. The 75-year-old retiree insisted on driving the three hours to West Springfield to pick it up that very evening.

"He didn't want it sent through the mail," said Calabrese. "He didn't want anybody else touching it."

Owner and ring were finally reunited in Calabrese's home, where Joe's wife surprised Perry with a cake to help celebrate the occasion. Perry, whose hand was shaking as he slipped the ring on his finger, was delighted to find that it fit even better than before he'd lost it.

Both men marveled at the ring's condition.

"He's gotta have the nicest looking ring of anyone in that class," said Calabrese. "The engravings are so deep."

"It looks brand new," agreed Perry. "I can't find anything wrong with it at all."

Devastated by the loss of the ring, Perry had long ago lost all hope of ever seeing it again, but he had never stopped thinking about it. Two years ago, while attending his Norwich fiftieth reunion, Perry spoke with a Balfour representative about a replacement. He even took a couple of brochures home with him, but eventually threw them out because the original mold no longer existed.

"It wouldn't have felt right, having just any old ring," he said.

Now that Perry has his cherished keepsake back, it is unlikely that owner and ring will ever part ways again. "I wear it every day now," said Perry. "Let me tell ya, I'm gonna make up for lost time," he added, laughing.

As Perry got back in his car to make the three hour trip back to South Dartmouth, it was hard to tell who was happier, the finder or the keeper.

"It was so cool to be a part of something like that," said Calabrese. "I hope it brings him a lot of happiness."

"I'll never get over it," beamed Perry. "It's just beautiful!"

dweggler@norwich.edu, November 2004

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