One Craigslist posting, three Patch Editors, a retired HK High School teacher, several helpful Patch readers and nearly 20 years later are all it took to return a lost Haddam-Killingworth school ring to its rightful owner.
Middletown Patch Editor Cassandra Day, after seeing a posting about a search for the owner of a found HK High School ring on Craigslist, posted this story across three local Patch sites. It didn’t take long before responses from readers started flying in via email, the Patch comment stream and Patch’s Facebook pages.
Phil Devlin, a Patch contributor and retired teacher at Haddam Killingworth High School, saw the story on Durham-Middlefield Patch and provided this information in the comments “Her name is Deanna Labbadia--the only member of the HK Class of 1994 named ‘Deanna’.”
On the East Haddam-Killingworth-Haddam Patch’s Facebook page, Stacy Zaid wrote “I shot an email to someone about this- think we might have a home for it. I graduated in '94! Will let you know!”
Brant Hasler, the finder of the ring, said “Well, I've been contacted by three different folks today--your Patch posting seems to have made the difference.”
“Too bad there was no Craigslist back in the 90's. I also posted it on Craigslist once previously (a year ago) with no hits...so again, seems like the Patch may have made the difference this time.”
The ring’s owner, Deanna (Labbadia) Welsch, heard about the posting from several friends and immediately emailed Hasler. She then followed up with The Haddams-Killingworth Patch Editor, Wendy Vincent, via phone.
“I thought it was gone forever,” Welsch told Patch. “I’m so glad it was found. I seriously have tears of happiness right now.”
“There were many of my friends that tipped me off to the Patch story,” she said.
“I really have to thank them all…it was all a group effort on their part. I received a post on Facebook from Samantha Houska, who received it from one of my classmates and friend Teresa Wallace Cook. I received another post from Jessica Howes another classmate and friend, with other friends commenting on it. I receive messages from Kelly Trella and Jeffrey Sturges. Kelly Trella received the link from Stacey Zaid, as many others…it was a community effort.”
“And I sure that I missed quite a few friends that need recognition. Personally, I think the HKHS community needs the recognition.”
Neal Perron, a family friend, also got involved, sending emails off to Patch and to Hasler.
“I have know him over many years and we have been close friends,” Welcsh said about Perron, “we refer to each other as brother and sister, but I consider all of my friends as a part of my family.”
Now, how did that ring get lost in the first place back in 1994?
Welsch recalls that she was “headed down to Hammonasset, it was a bike ride from Killingworth with a friend's church group. When we arrived, we ended up hanging out on the beach.”
“I didn't want to lose my ring so I put it in my bag, I wouldn't call it a beach bag…it was more like a light backpack with a drawstring. When I went to leave, I went to put my ring back on and couldn't find it. My friends and I looked around in the sand for it and couldn't find it…I thought, maybe the ring fell to the bottom of the bag and I will look for it at home and prayed was not in the sand.”
“When I got home I shook all of the contents out in hopes that my ring would fall out…it didn't. I did notice a small tear in the lining of the bag. I felt the bag to see my ring was in-between the exterior and the lining of the bag but I didn't feel anything.”
Then, Welsch remembers going roller blading at Wesleyan one day, shortly after that and is pretty sure that she used that same bag.
“My only assumption is while switching from shoes to roller blades or vice versa, is that my ring was still in the bag, in-between the layers and some how fell out of the bag unknown to me. That is the only way I can imagine that my ring would show up at Wesleyan.”
Which, is how Hesler discovered the ring in the grass at Wesleyan University.
"Embarrassingly, I found this in the grass on Wesleyan University campus way back in 1994. I was graduating at the time, and I couldn't think of way to find its owner before I moved away from Middletown. It ended up in a box, just turning up recently as I went through old boxes in preparation for moving again," Hasler posted on Craigslist.
"My biggest concern as I posted on Craigslist," said Hesler, "was that some dishonest person would try to claim the ring was theirs. Thus, the test of identifying the engraving on the other side of the ring. I'm very heartened by the fact that instead of dealing with dishonesty, I instead saw multiple examples of the good in people, as Wendy and Cassandra at the Patch, an administrator at the high school and a friend of the ring-owner all took time out of your busy days to try to help someone else. Makes me smile."
Welcsh, who currently resides in Higganum, is “amazed but not so amazed about the support from my friends, I know a lot of good people out there that will go out of their way to help a friend. My friends are great people and it is in their nature to help. I am very grateful to them for their help. I am also very grateful for the man who found my ring and has now found the means to return it.”
Patch is happy to report that after nearly 20 years, the ring is finally on its way back home to its owner.