Vin's People: Manatee grad's class ring found 35 years later

May 31, 2013 

Here's a cool tale for graduation, albeit decades later.

Dave Leestma, Manatee High School Class of 1969, had lost his class ring.

Or rather his younger brother did 35 years ago.

After the family moved to California, Mark Leestma took the ring to Hawaii on a school band trip and lost it on a beach.

Gone forever, big brother figured.

"I'd totally forgotten about it," said Dave Leestma, a church choral director in Houston.

Incredibly, a diver found the encrusted ring not long ago in the Pacific Ocean off Oahu. After cleaning it up, he saw the school name, graduation year and owner's initials still legible and contacted Manatee.

Secretary Loyda Perez and guidance counselor Jim Forssell took the information, matched it with Leestma's senior picture in the 1969 yearbook and tracked him down.

Ironically, Forssell's late dad, Jim, was Leestma's choral director at Manatee.

The ring should be arriving any day now.

"I'm not going to wear it," Leestma said. "I'm going to frame it!"

• Are you a D-Day veteran? Or know of one? Please call me at 941-745-7055.

• Summerfield's Dell Trawick is 106 years young.

• Capt. Robert W. Scott IV is being promoted to major today at Elmendorf Air Force Base in Anchorage, Alaska. The 1999 Manatee alum and 2003 U.S. Air Force Academy grad has been on active duty 10 years, most recently as an explosive ordnance disposal officer in Iraq and Afghanistan

Parents Bob and Janna and sister Sarah will be on hand for the ceremony.

Scott's next posting will be at Wright Patterson AFB in Dayton, Ohio.

• Gina and Gene Brown are wed 24 years today and the Bradenton city councilman is 46 Saturday. Sheesh, just a kid.

• Sounds like Shirley Rampart enjoyed a whirlwind weekend recently.

Between attending granddaughter and Southeast High School alum Lindsay Harper's graduation with a master's degree in social work from the University of Tennessee, celebrating daughter Kerry Harper's birthday and Mother's Day in Louisville, Tenn., then taking a trip to Dollywood in Pigeon Forge, Grandma was on the go.

"I needed a rest!" she said jokingly.

• Jake Durshimer, a junior English education major at Florida State University, made spring semesters dean's list. Art and Meg are proud.

• Angela (Faith) Faust, Sheri Jacobs, Pamela Ross and Katherine Turenne were initiated into Delta Kappa Gamma's

Kappa chapter, which promotes the professional and personal growth of women educators.

Faust teaches music at Samoset Elementary, is a member of the Florida Elementary Music Educators, Sigma Alpha Iota professional women's music fraternity and Pi Kappa Lambda national music honor fraternity.

Jacobs has 23 years experience as an educator, is now a school social worker and trains therapy dogs.

Ross is still teaching after 34 years. She is an ESL teacher, teaches reading for the school district and teaches online courses for State College of Florida.

Turenne teaches first grade at Mills Elementary and is its educator of the year representative.

• Grandma Doris Montanez and parents Gary and Felicia James want to brag on graduating Southeast High School senior Aaron James.

Vin's People, is by local columnist Vin Mannix. He can be reached at 941-745-7055. Twitter: @vinmannix

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