ABILENE, Texas (KTAB/KRBC) – Mr. Winifred Bollinger, a 1951 graduate of McMurry University, has been identified as the most likely owner of a class ring found stuck in the mud at Lake Fort Phantom Hill in March.

Abilene resident Dawn Boyles who found the ring said she had hoped to reunite it with its owner, but upon finding that Mr. Bollinger had passed away and no living relatives could be found, she has chosen to donate the ring back to the university.

Dawn Boyles presenting ring to Christopher Bartlett

“I’m kind of saddened by it because I really wanted to find out how it ended up in the lake… I was hoping at least maybe sons, daughters would come up, grandchildren. Somebody that would have wanted it for keepsakes,” Boyles said.

McMurry Senior Marketing Content Specialist, Christopher Bartlett told KTAB/KRBC although they did not find any family, the research which led them to Bollinger was filled with people who knew him, happy to share fond memories of their late friend.

Winifred Bollinger in the 1951 McMurry Totem Yearbook

“It’s very inspiring to see the amount of support that this one individual got through all of these people reaching out,” beamed Bartlett.

Even though Boyles didn’t get that happy reunion she was hoping for, she said she was glad her treasure hunt brought joy to those who knew the rightful owner before his passing.

“Maybe he’ll have some friends pop up and realize, ‘hey that’s my bud’s ring. I want to go see it,'” Boyles pondered.

The meaning behind the ring is far more important than any value Boyles said she might hold in it as a keepsake. She said she hopes others will be inspired by the story.

“People spend half their lives trying to accomplish something and… It’s not mine to keep… I didn’t earn it, so it’s only right for it to be where it came from,” explained Boyles.

McMurry staff said they were working to incorporate Bollinger’s ring into the set already on display at the McMurry Museum in the Old Main building. The plan is to include a small placard detailing the ring’s history, as well as contact information. The hope is that if there is any family still out there, they will be able to reach out to the university.