BRENHAM, Texas – Debbie Peeples thought she would never see her high school class ring again.

Not after she lost it in the darkness of a Pearland parking lot in 1993, and especially not after her ensuing searches came up empty.

But 25 years later—and nearly 100 miles away from that parking lot—her ring appeared in a coin-counting machine at a Brenham credit union.

“I thought it was gone,” Peeples said.

Melissa Born found the silver ring with an emerald stone inside the machine while investigating a paper jam. The ring was sitting in a catchall tray that often spits out foreign objects intermingled with coins: paper clips, gum wrappers or foreign coins. Born, a member service representative with the Associated Credit Union of Texas Brenham branch, said she’s never found anything like it in the tray.

Inscribed was the name Debbie Martinez, Alvin High School, Class of 1994. Born and her coworkers immediately began a search.

“We looked through our members and didn’t see her name,” Born said. “We called our members who have used our coin machine to see if they knew a Debbie Martinez and no one knew.”

Melissa Born (left) shows Debbie Peeples (right) the catchall tray that her high school class ring was found inside of a coin machine.
Melissa Born (left) shows Debbie Peeples (right) the catchall tray that her high school class ring was found inside of a coin machine.

Born was determined to find its owner.

She turned her search to Facebook and found a long list of potential Debbie Martinez. She whittled it down to one in particular: a Debbie Martinez Peeples who graduated Alvin High School. She sent a hopeful Facebook message: had she lost a ring?

Peeples was with a friend in 1993 who asked to try her ring on. It slipped off her friend’s finger and onto the pavement. The two searched for hours in the dark with flashlights. Peeples returned the next day hopeful the morning sun might cast a light on the ring.

She had no such luck.

Peeples, then Debbie Martinez, is the only one of her five siblings to graduate high school, and her parents wanted to commemorate the milestone with a gift to match the occasion. Peeples picked out a silver band with an emerald, her birthstone; a yellowjacket for Alvin High School’s mascot; and a rose in honor of her mother’s name.

It was the last gift her father bought her before he passed away, Peeples said.

It took her two weeks to respond to Born’s Facebook message. Working two jobs as a massage therapist and massage therapy instructor occupies much of her time. She replied: Yes, she had lost a ring 25 years ago—a sliver one with a yellowjacket and a rose.

Born’s determination paid off.

Born agreed to mail it to her right away. When Peeples opened the envelope, her eyes filled with tears—a mix of joy and sadness. For the first time in two decades, she had her ring, and more importantly, a piece of her parents. Peeples lost her mother in April 2017 after a long illness and said reuniting with the ring “was like a message from both my parents.”

Debbie Peeples says her high school class ring from 1994 doesn't fit like it used to.
Debbie Peeples says her high school class ring from 1994 doesn't fit like it used to.

Though she’s elated to have it back, she still has questions. Was it forgotten in someone’s coin jar? Was someone hoping to pawn it? Was someone looking for her all these years?

If only the ring could speak.

“I wonder what story it would tell,” Peeples said.

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