Familiar Ring

Four-year-old Peter Ozonoff poses in the location of the common area of the Gaywood community where he was digging when he found a Johns Hopkins class of 1948 ring in Towson. (Staff Photo by Brian Krista / September 12, 2011)

A little boy finds a ring lost at least 14 years ago, and a daughter now feels she is no longer alone.

And some feel it's all thanks to Irene.

"Something good came out of the hurricane," Mary Claire Mari said. "This is the rainbow."

Mari has been babysitting the three children of Towson residents Francie and Will Ozonoff since the youngsters were born. She is also their aunt. They call her "Moo."

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One of the three is Peter Ozonoff, 4, a digger and collector, she said.

Mari, a Monkton resident, likes to tease her sister about Peter and his 9-year-old brother, Tommy, and 11-year-old sister, Lucy.

"You may have birthed them but I raised 'em," she likes to say.

In the common green behind his home, Peter uses his a shovel or his hands to unearth bottle caps, stones, acorns, slugs and earthworms or "euwees" as he has dubbed them, Mari said. That's when he isn't catching and examining butterflies, spiders, caterpillars and assorted flies.

Peter, who attends Redeemer Parish Day School five days a week, calls them his "treasures."

The heavy rains from Hurricane Irene muddied up the green, and since schools were closed on Tuesday, Sept. 6, Peter was digging around when something bright caught his eye.

It was a ring.

Peter plucked it out of the mud and brought it inside to his father, who teaches social studies at Franklin Middle School. His mother works for Care First Blue Cross Blue Shield.

After washing it off, his father discovered it was a 10-carat gold ring with a black onyx stone. It was marked Johns Hopkins University, Class of 1948. It had a fraternity symbol and inside it were the initials "R.H." and a letter difficult to decipher.

His father told him it might be worth a lot of money, but Peter, a little disappointed it wasn't a bottle cap he could add to his collection, just went outside and climbed a tree, according to Mari, who was put in charge of the investigation.

The family would try to find the ring's owner if he were still alive, or at least return it to his family.

Mari contacted Hopkins and found out the fraternity was Delta Upsilon which, unfortunately, left the campus in the early 1990s, according to Hopkins Greek Life and Orientation director Robert Turning, who said, "They left for dwindling membership and poor behavior."

But his suggestion to contact the international office of the fraternity proved fruitless because of what appeared to be a missing initial.

Stephen Walsh of the JHU alumni office and Pat Conklin, senior associate director of alumni relations, also tried to help.

"It was intriguing," Conklin said.

Several people ended up looking at the photograph they'd been emailed, and poured over yearbooks looking for possibilities.