When Dave Wozniak had belongings stolen from his home in Charlotte, N.C., 15 years ago, it wasn’t the electronics that he was upset losing. It was the sentimental items.
His father’s 1964 University of Detroit class ring was one of them.
Wozniak, the son of U-D graduate John Wozniak ’64, received the ring after his father passed away in 2007.
“I had some of my dad’s things after he passed and not 10 months later it all got stolen,” Wozniak said. “Now 15 years later, it’s back. I never thought I would get that back.”
It’s back thanks to the help of Marty Gair, a Charlotte resident and construction superintendent, originally from St. Clair Shores. One of Gair’s workers found the ring doing yard work and Gair knew he had to try and locate the ring’s owner.
“I lost my high school ring in 1992,” Gair said. “I thought, ‘Somebody would be really happy to see this again — I know I would be.’ I knew somebody was missing it.”
Gair sent photos of the ring, which bears the inscription “JSW AB” on the inside, to University of Detroit Mercy’s Facebook page in mid-January.
Photos of the ring were then posted to the University’s Facebook page on Jan. 24 and through some research by University Advancement, the Detroit Mercy Facebook community and others, it was determined the class ring originally belonged to John S. Wozniak.
Gail Jones, director of prospect research in Advancement at Detroit Mercy, assisted in the efforts of finding the ring’s owner, admitting that she “could not resist a good mystery.”
John Wozniak was the only member of the Bachelor of Arts class of 1964 who had the initials JSW. He graduated with a degree in History from the University, with the AB inscription inside of the ring referencing a Bachelor of Arts degree.
Jones located a phone number for Dave Wozniak, who was contacted by the Marketing & Communications team at Detroit Mercy. Wozniak, who now lives in Highland Creek, N.C., just outside of Charlotte, was both shocked and thrilled when he received the phone call.
After exchanging phone information, it didn’t take long for Gair and Wozniak to connect in person for Wozniak to reunite with his father’s class ring.
“It sounded like where it was found was pretty close to where I used to live,” Wozniak said. “It’s funny, my wife, she would occasionally find things that had been stolen while running. I’m assuming the people who stole it must have thrown the ring. That’s my guess.”
Not only was it a thrill for Dave Wozniak, but the entire Wozniak family, including his mother, who still lives in Fredonia, N.Y., where John Wozniak spent his adult life following his graduation from the University of Detroit.
“He graduated from U-D and got his Ph.D. from UConn,” Dave Wozniak said of his father. “He met my mother in Connecticut and then moved to Fredonia because of the college there, to be a professor.
“He did that for about two years and then became an insurance salesman, sold life insurance for 35 years. He felt like he was helping families, helping the every-day person. He found something he enjoyed doing and believed in. He really enjoyed talking with people.”
Wozniak, who has three kids of his own, including one who was considering getting his own class ring, wanted to convey his gratitude for ensuring the ring’s return.
“I just want to thank the University, Marty and the gentleman who worked with Marty, for just going the extra mile,” Wozniak said. “A lot of times life happens and people are busy and not everyone would do that.
“Everyone’s actions made someone’s family happy. It’s not about the monetary value, but it’s sentimental to my family. It means a lot to us and dad.”