Carrie Rengers

‘Serendipity on steroids’ helps 1967 Bishop Carroll grad get his class ring back

Man reunited with class ring after 45 years

Augie Blanchat had his 1967 Bishop Carroll class ring stolen from his home in the early 1970s. The ring reappeared after a plumber pulled it out of a middle school sewer pipe in DeSoto County, Mississippi a couple of years ago.
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Augie Blanchat had his 1967 Bishop Carroll class ring stolen from his home in the early 1970s. The ring reappeared after a plumber pulled it out of a middle school sewer pipe in DeSoto County, Mississippi a couple of years ago.

Augie Blanchat didn’t realize how much he missed his 1967 Bishop Carroll Catholic High School class ring, which was stolen from his home in the early 1970s, until two years ago at his 50th high school reunion.

A good friend flashed his ring and bragged that it still fit.

“I realized I was envious that he had that ring,” Blanchat said. “I went to school four years for that sucker.”

It’s been a long wait, but that sucker is now back thanks to a Mississippi contractor Blanchat has never met.

“This is all serendipity on steroids,” Blanchat said. “Couldn’t make this one up.”

Charles Flynn is a Mississippi contractor who has a contract with the DeSoto County school system, which is why last fall he was fixing a sewer issue at the Olive Branch Intermediate School in Olive Branch, Miss.

“I get involved in problem stuff,” Flynn said.

His motto, which also is part of his e-mail address, says it all: “see ’bout it.”

“That’s what I do. I go see ’bout it.”

Just about every time Flynn sees about a sewer issue, he finds something interesting. At schools, that’s often rings or scissors.

On this October day, he found two rings: a child’s play ring and a class ring with the initials APB.

“This was the first time I had something with some identification to go by,” Flynn said.

Blanchat remembers he had to pay extra to get his initials engraved inside the ring.

“There’s a reason why they ask you to do that, and here you are.”

Flynn e-mailed Bishop Carroll for help in finding the ring’s owner, but he shared the initials for the first and last name only. He wanted proof from someone of the other initial so he could ensure the rightful owner received the ring.

There were two Bishop Carroll students whose initials were a match, but Blanchat’s middle initial — P for Paul — is the only one that matched the ring.

On Tuesday, Blanchat said Bishop Carroll administrators “ceremoniously returned the ring” on what happened to be his birthday.

“They really handled it nicely.”

Of course, it’s Flynn who has Blanchat’s biggest thanks.

The two talked for the first time Tuesday night.

“Of course, I had no explanation,” Blanchat said of how his ring wound up in a Mississippi school sewer.

“Lord knows how long it was in there.”

Blanchat said Flynn seemed as happy about the return as he was, and Flynn said that’s true.

“I could not believe it,” he said. “My eyes got watery.”

Flynn, who graduated high school in 1966, no longer has his own class ring. He doesn’t remember what happened to it.

“I just know I don’t have it.”

Blanchat said Flynn was “overcome with joy and connection” at being able to help him find his ring.

Jostens, a Minnesota company that makes high school rings, has offered to polish the tarnished ring and replace the beaten, nicked stone in it.

Through the years, Blanchat said, “I’ve been beat up and nicked up.”

He said perhaps it makes sense to have a ring to match.

Blanchat said he wouldn’t mind getting the ring polished, but he said, “You know, I think I ought to keep that stone in there.”

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