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It’s been 23 years since Eric Bilhuber ’82 purchased his Lafayette class ring, but he wears it today with the pride of a recent graduate. To him, it’s like a piece of lost treasure, symbolic of a formative time in his life, returned to its rightful owner.

In April, Bilhuber received an e-mail from Lafayette’s Office of Alumni Affairs asking if he thought a ring, reported found in the pocket of a winter coat by Eileen Spiess, owner of a charitable thrift shop in Myrtle Beach, S.C., could be his. According to Spiess, the ring was engraved with a name, but she was unsure of the spelling.

Within a few moments, a rush of memories let Bilhuber know he was the rightful owner.

“I was living at 208 Cattell Street, which was an off-campus, second floor apartment that I shared with three roommates who were fraternity brothers of mine,” he says. “One day we were sitting on the roof and we thought there was certainly a better place to sit in the sun and drink beer than ‘Tar Beach’ so we drove to Kitty Hawk — all the way down in one night.”

Soon after the brief visit, Bilhuber noticed that the ring was missing, but couldn’t find it. For 23 years he didn’t think much about his class ring. That is, until he got the e-mail.

“It just blew me away,” says Bilhuber, a civil engineering graduate. “I e-mailed back Eileen and thanked her profusely and promised to buy her [dinner at] the best restaurant in town. She put the ring in a Fed-Ex envelope and it was on my finger the next morning.”

As soon as Bilhuber received the ring, he put it on and left it there for a week — until it caused his finger to swell horribly.

“I wanted to wear it. I didn’t want it to leave my body for a while,” he says.

Categorized in: Alumni Profiles