Former Suffolk resident reunited with ring

Published 12:00 am Sunday, March 6, 2005

The tiny initials-MDC-etched inside the 1974 John Yeates High School class ring discovered months ago in a Maryland state park ring gave it away.

After hearing the letters, Linda Glasscock Bunch stopped flipping thorough the pages of her old yearbook.

&uot;I don’t even need to look,&uot; said Bunch, executive director of the Suffolk Art League. &uot;I know exactly whose ring it is. I wore it for several months in high school.&uot;

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That was the beginning of the end to the &uot;mystery&uot; that reunited Mark D. Clark, a former Chuckatuck resident who was once Bunch’s high school flame, with the class ring he lost nearly three decades ago.

Clark, now a historic preservationist in Roanoke, only lived in Suffolk for about a year, when

his father, the retired Rev. Ronald Clark, served as pastor to Wesley Chapel United Methodist Church. After his father retired from the ministry in 1975, the Clark family moved to northern Virginia.

Clark, who even in high school was an artist and history buff, used to spend a lot of weekends at Fort Frederick State Park doing Civil War reenactments. To make it more authentic, participants had to remove all their jewelry and watches.

&uot;I’m sure that’s

how I lost the ring,&uot; said Clark, 49, during a recent telephone interview. Although he doesn’t remember losing the ring, he knows it was missing sometime before 1979.

A visitor to the Hagerstown, Md., park turned the ring in last July, said Sherian Hose, the park’s administrative specialist. The park took several stabs at finding the ring’s owner, including calling the school and placing a message on the web site.

&uot;We called the school but since it had become a middle school, no one seemed to know where old high school yearbooks were kept,&uot; Hose said. &uot;We kept hitting brick walls.&uot;

Finally, the ring was boxed up and stashed in a closet until Hose resurrected the search in December by putting a note in the Suffolk News-Herald’s online guest book.

Her message prompted the newspaper to write a story about the ring.

After Bunch identified the ring’s owner, the newspaper tracked Clark down by contacting his father through the Virginia United Methodist Conference in Richmond. Finally, after several calls and emails between Clark, the newspaper and park officials, Clark received his ruby-and-gold ring in the mail.

&uot;I hadn’t given the ring much thought over the past 30 years,&uot; he said. &uot;Maybe once, when my daughter, Ariel, got her class ring.&uot;

Recovering the ring is pretty amazing, Clark said.

&uot;I find it fascinating that three people cared enough to find out who the ring belonged to,&uot; he said. &uot;I don’t know that I would have looked for me that hard.

&uot;The ring is going to go in a box and sit on a closet shelf. But it has acted as a catalyst for me,…made me pause to think what life could have been like,&uot; Clark said. &uot;When something like this happens, it instantly takes you right back to where you were when you were 18.

&uot;I think it gave me an opportunity to sit down and take stock of things in my life. I can honestly say I don’t think there’s anything I would have done differently.&uot;

Clark and his wife, Susan, a license professional counselor, moved to Roanoke four years ago.

Ironically, the couple lives only a mile from Bunch’s older brother, Tom Glasscock, who also used to hang out with Clark in high school. The two rode motorcycles together.

The day after learning about the ring, Clark and Bunch took a telephone trip down memory lane.

&uot;It was neat hearing her voice after all those years,&uot; he said. &uot;It sounds like she found something she likes to do and has had great success at it.

&uot;I’m happy she’s had such a good life.&uot;

It was good to speak with Clark, Bunch said.

&uot;The whole adventure has been kind of fun,&uot; Bunch said. &uot;When we talked that afternoon, I thought about a lot of people that hadn’t crossed my mind in years.

&uot;It’s pretty cool how things worked out.&uot;