And Port Aransas couple David and Connie Beane have found themselves right in the middle of it.
The story starts with Matt Hodges, a man whom David and Connie never have met and never will.
When Matt, a Texas A&M University graduate, lost his treasured Aggie ring in 2005, he and his wife, Kourtnee, searched their Springfield, Va., home for a long time, but without success. After a while, the couple – he, a patent examiner going to law school and she, an attorney – came to believe they’d never find the class ring again.
In 2007, while playing a flag football game, Matt suddenly collapsed and died at the age of 29 of a previously undiagnosed heart ailment. Kourtnee was shocked and grief-stricken but eventually remarried and moved to Portland.
It was Matt’s Aggie ring. But Matt and his wife never had visited Port Aransas, as a couple, before, and they didn’t know the Beanes.
David picked up the ring. He never had seen it before. He asked Connie where it came from. She didn’t know, either. The only other member of the household, their son, Dave Beane, 29, also didn’t recognize it.
“I was shocked,” Connie said. “I was kind of freaking out, because I was, like, who has been in my house?”
They took a close look at the ring under a lamp. They saw that it was a gold Aggie ring with engravings of a shield, a Texas star and a cannon.
They also saw engravings of the owner’s name, Matthew P. Hodges, and the year he graduated, 2000.
Dave Googled the name on his iPhone. Within minutes, he found a newspaper obituary for Matt.
“Mom, the guy who owns that ring is dead,” Dave said.
“It was pretty surreal,” recalled Connie. “The fellow is dead, and we don’t even know him, so how did this appear?”
They decided to turn the ring over to the Port Aransas Police Department, in hopes that some member of Matt’s family might be located. They might want the ring for sentimental reasons, the Beanes figured.
Connie and David dropped it off at the police station. The following night, PAPD Officer Matt Campbell reported back that he had been able to get hold of the ring owner’s parents. They were in Florida.
Through the parents, he was able to get Kourtnee’s phone number.
Police contacted Kourtnee. She was flabbergasted by the news that the ring had been found, and in Port Aransas, of all places. But she said she indeed did want the ring back.
“I guess it was just because it was something that was really important to (Matt),” Kourtnee said. “So, getting it back was such a big part of him to have back.”
Kourtnee drove to the police station to pick up the ring, and Connie met her there. By then, the Beanes had developed a theory about how the ring had gotten in their house.
The Beanes bought a used sofa on Dec. 31 at a Corpus Christi Salvation Army store. The ring was lying only a few feet from the sofa when David found it.
Could the ring have fallen out of the sofa, and could that sofa once have belonged to Matt and Kourtnee?
When Connie walked into the police station, she gave Kourtnee a big hug, and then she asked her a question.
“Did you ever have a brown leather double-recliner sofa?” Connie said.
“Yes!” Kourtnee said.
“I have your sofa!” Connie said.
Indeed, Kourtnee had donated the sofa to the Salvation Army outlet in Corpus Christi late last year.
“I have no clue how the ring ended up in the couch,” Kourtnee said.
“We looked everywhere for it, including the couch, so I don’t know where in the couch it could have been,” Kourtnee said. “But it must have been stuck somewhere really well for it to make the move halfway across the country and not come out.”
David figures it must have popped out without him noticing it right away when he recently reclined on the sofa or adjusted a sheet he had covered it with.
Kourtnee said both she and Matt got Aggie rings when they were in college together.
They had a professionally photographed portrait made together, and it prominently featured the rings on their fingers.
Aggie rings are important to A&M graduates everywhere. An Aggie tradition is attached to the rings.
“No matter where you are in the world, if you see someone with that ring, you’re supposed to walk up and introduce yourself,” Kourtnee said.
Connie refuses to take credit for getting the ring back to Kourtnee.
She credits God.
“This is God at work,” she said. “I truly believe this was a miracle. … I know it was meant for her to get the ring back.”
Questions? Comments? Contact Dan Parker at (361) 749- 5131 or firstname.lastname@example.org.