What do a lake in Mississippi and a circuit breaker panel in UVA’s Dobie House have in common?
Both yielded long-abandoned items in a curious pair of lost-and-found cases for two University alumni.
John Pospisil (Engr ’66) had worn his class ring through two tours in Vietnam, but while he was pushing his sailboat onto Okatibbee Lake in Mississippi, one day in the early 1970s, the ring slipped off his finger. He tried to grab it but failed.
“I went back several more times [with a fishing net] and rooted around in the bottom of the lake where I knew it was, but I never could find it. I just sort of gave up on it,” says Pospisil, a retired pilot who lives outside Chicago. At the time, he was an instructor pilot at nearby Naval Air Station Meridian.
Fast-forward to Oct. 22, 2007. Keith Page was enjoying one of his routine fishing outings on the drought-stricken lake when he saw something glinting in the sand. “I pushed it with my finger, and the ring jumped up,” he told WTOK-TV in Meridian.
The next morning Page and his boss called Kerry Graves, assistant director of alumni relations in UVA’s Law School Foundation, and some detective work began. The letters “B.E.E.” engraved on the ring indicated the owner received a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering, and “J.P.” led to John Pospisil. Page telephoned him with news of the discovery.
“It was just such a coincidence and surprise that I was dumbfounded,” Pospisil says.
In that regard, he’s got something in common with Michael Campbell (Col ’91), an attorney in Rockville, Md.
Campbell received a phone call last fall from residents of Dobie House, where Campbell had lived as a first-year student.
“For some reason, they had needed to access the circuit breaker panel in the suite, and inside they found my college ID from 1987-88,” Campbell says. “I don’t remember losing it.”
The ID showed Campbell’s Social Security number, and the students used the Internet to track him down.
“This made me realize how much technology has changed since 1987,” Campbell says. “Back then, personal computers were just beginning to arrive on the scene and the Internet was unknown.”
Campbell says the students were giddy with excitement at finding what they must have considered an “ancient artifact.”
“I realized they were not even born in 1987, so it must have been a real find for them.”