Melissa Patterson was doing yardwork in October outside her Elgin home when she came across a ring from Schaumburg High School, class of 1980. The inscription on the inside said Beth Winer.
Patterson was inspired to put her Internet sleuthing to the test and try to find the woman, who had since been married and remarried, changing her last name twice.
Beth Orticelli got her class ring back Saturday -- more than 30 years after she traded it with her high school friend Barbara Moreland Wright, who lived in Patterson's home after graduating high school.
Orticelli said the fact that Patterson went through the effort to find her has increased the value of the ring itself.
"I'm not going to lie, I haven't been saying, 'Oh I wish I had my high school ring,' " Orticelli said. "But now it's going to be just such a treasure to me."
Patterson said it didn't take too long to track Orticelli through her name changes, thanks to Google, Whitepages.com and Facebook. She couldn't find anything about Beth Winer when she searched for her name and Schaumburg High School, but she found a Sam Winer, whom she assumed correctly was Orticelli's brother. A White Pages search for him listed Beth Rehbock as a related person, which, on the same site, led Patterson to Kate Rehbock, Orticelli's daughter.
On Facebook, Patterson searched for Kate Rehbock and up popped Kate Scully, Orticelli's daughter with her married name. Orticelli was the only "Beth" listed as a friend of Scully's and that, tied to Google search results listing both a Beth Rehbock and a Beth Orticelli as St. Charles School District 303 teachers, convinced her she had the right woman.
Patterson said the entire search didn't take much more than an hour. She found Orticelli's work email and sent a message in October but when that was never returned, Patterson didn't want to pry. Last week she gave the search one more shot and sent Orticelli a Facebook message, which was returned almost immediately.
The original email got caught by Orticelli's spam folder. But the two finally met Saturday and Orticelli got her ring back.
Patterson said she has been overwhelmed by the attention of friends of both women since Orticelli posted a note about the search on Facebook.
"I was just trying to do the right thing and return it," Patterson said. "When I found it I told my husband it would be a fun project."
Now Orticelli is taking the good deed one step further. She put her excitement into productive energy this past weekend, searching the depths of her closet for her friend's ring, which she has had since high school.
Now, not only did she get her ring back and a new friend in Patterson, but she also got a clean closet out of the deal. And her fellow Schaumburg High School grad will get her ring back, too.