Twenty-five years ago in Italy, John Sims had lost his treasured Miami Beach High School class ring with his name and his football number, 56, neatly inscribed inside.
Thursday, Sims and the long-lost ring were reunited, thanks to a social-media-savvy Boca Raton woman and a Virginia family.
And Sims, now living in Mt. Juliet, Tenn., couldn't be happier. In fact, Sims recently had been thinking of how much it would cost to order a new one.
"I'm kind of a nostalgic fool. I think of things like that," a wistful Sims said by phone Thursday.
Exactly how the white-gold ring crossed continents is somewhat of a mystery.
Sims said he thinks he left the ring in a Navy-owned baseball glove in Naples, Italy, that got shipped across the world to be used in Virginia, where the ring fell out. But what happened after that is "a remarkable story with a happy ending."
The Virginia family found the ring 20 years ago, put it in a drawer and forgot about it. When they found it again, earlier this week, they went online and found Margie Schulman Alter of Boca Raton, a Miami Beach High graduate from the class of 1966 who is now active in the online alumni community.
She posted a message to Facebook:
"Does anyone know John Sims, Class of '81 MBSHS, Beach High football player #56? MBSHS class ring found 20 years ago however, placed in a drawer (NOT my drawer) and forgotten until recently."
Within four hours, Schulman Alter said, she and seven other alumni had located the right "John Sims." They did, for a while, assume the Cooper City commissioner of the same name was the owner.
But soon the correct John Sims saw his name and photos of his ring — which he recognized immediately — being discussed on Facebook, and messaged Schulman Alter on Monday. She gave him the number for the family that found it. The ring came back to Sims in the mail Thursday.
It's a story about the power of Facebook, Schulman Alter said. And it's also a story about how close alumni from Miami Beach High School's classes from the 60s, 70s ad 80s still are, Schulman said.
"We are particularly active," she said. "It's just growing up on Miami Beach, in the 60s and 70s and 80s, it's a family. Everyone knows everybody else. Having grown up attending that high school, there's a connection we have."
Miami Beach in those years was almost like a small town, she said.
That's part of why Sims still feels nostalgic for the school, he said.
"You always remember where you came from, and we're a close-knit group, even if we're spread out over the country," Sims said. "We talk every day on Facebook."
Sims said he plans to wear it every day, just like he used to. But this time, he'll make sure it's never off his finger.
"It just became my other wedding ring," he said.