The owner of a 1972 Boca Raton High School class ring - engraved with the initials "MRB" and found in January by students at Boca Raton Middle School - was recently tracked down, thanks to the efforts of a network of Boca High alumni.
Prompted by a Feb. 24 article in the News, dozens of Boca High graduates used two "virtual class reunion" Web sites to put out the call for Mary Ruth Beil, the 1972 alumnus believed to have lost the ring.
Eventually, word reached Barbara Paradise, Beil's life-long friend who still lives in Boca Raton.
"My sister brought me something off the Internet. It blew my mind." said Paradise.
She said she well remembered the day Beil, then a high school junior, came home to find her room ransacked. As a prank, two neighborhood girls had stolen all of Beil's belongings, said Paradise.
They even took her newly purchased amethyst class ring, which cost $350 - a lot of money in 1971. Beil paid for it, in part, with money she earned babysitting.
Later, Beil's mother confronted the two girls and reclaimed her daughter's belongings, but the ring was nowhere to be found.
Apparently, the girls dropped it in the vicinity of Boca Raton Middle School, 1251 N.W. Eighth St., as they walked from Beil's N.W. 12th Road home.
Twenty-nine years later, Boca Middle seventh-grader Anel Joseph found it.
Joseph spotted the gold ring while digging a hole to plant a tree for the school's Arbor Day celebration.
On Sunday, Paradise will pick it up on behalf of her friend, who now lives in Atlanta.
Beil was born with a gender-related disorder known as endocrinology and congenital adrenal hyperplasia, and is now living as a man named Drew Taylor.
"I can't imagine even having it again," said Taylor. "This means a lot."
Taylor went on to praise Joseph and his parents, whom Taylor said must have instilled honesty in their son.
"He could have just kept it. He should be commended." Taylor said.