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This class ring was truly special

By Staff | Sep 21, 2014

There are always many stories flying around the room at class reunions and the 50th reunion of the Blue Earth High School Class of 1964 was no different.

But, here is my favorite.

Class member Virgil Kelm, now a Lutheran pastor at a church in St. Louis, tells the story of his class ring.

In 1964 the ring, his Buccaneer letterman’s jacket and his 1955 Chevy were his proudest possessions.

One hot, summer afternoon in 1965, Virgil went swimming at a nearby lake after work.

He returned to his parent’s home at 324 S. Galbraith and parked his Chevy in the driveway and took out his towels, sunglasses and sandals and went into the house.

It was then he realized he didn’t have his class ring. He thought it must have fallen out of his towels when he went into the house, so he retraced his steps and frantically searched everywhere for the precious ring. The driveway, the house, the car, the lake.

He never found it.

In 1984 Virgil’s mother died, leaving his father alone. In 1990, his father broke his hip and underwent therapy at St. Luke’s Lutheran Care Center. A short while later, Virgil sold his parent’s home on Galbraith Street to one of his high school classmates, Randy Emery.

Three years ago, in October of 2011, Virgil received a phone call from a total stranger.

A man named Andrew Marxen, of Rochester, said he had found Virgil’s class ring.

Needless to say, Pastor Virgil Kelm was stunned. He was speechless. After 46 years, how could a complete stranger in Rochester have his class ring?

Here is how.

In the summer of 2011, the city of Blue Earth was doing a street reconstruction and underground utility replacement project on Galbraith Street.

Andrew Marxen is a ‘treasure hunter’ and often goes to construction sites with his metal detector searching for, well, ‘treasure.’ In fact, Marxen was even vice president of a Rochester scavenger club.

He was in Blue Earth one day going over the dug up areas on Galbraith Street including Virgil’s former family home. Some utility pipes were being installed alongside the driveway and Marxen’s metal detector found something.

It was Virgil’s dirt-encrusted ring.

After taking it home to Rochester and cleaning it up, Marxen could read the year 1964 and see the initials VK on it. He called the Blue Earth Area High School and asked who was in the class of ’64 with a name having the initials VK. The answer was Virgil Kelm.

Through the marvels of the Internet, Marxen located a Pastor Virgil Kelm in St. Louis.

He asked the obvious question, “Would you like to have your class ring back?”

After 46 years, Virgil did not think that would ever happen. He had tears in his eyes when he answered “Yes!”

As a pastor, he hesitated to call it an official miracle, but he did say it was certainly miraculous.

The actual miracle may be that Pastor Kelm learned Marxen was searching for a church home in Rochester. He guided Marxen to a Lutheran church in Rochester where one of the pastors is the son-in-law of one of Virgil’s fellow pastors in St. Louis. Marxen joined that church.

One could say that the two men each found a treasure for the other one.

Or one could say that the Lord of the ring does indeed work in mysterious ways.