Office of the VP for Communications – Keeping alumni and friends connected to U-M

#lostring #foundring #maizeandbluemiracle

“There’s something very magical about tiny, sacred objects finding their way back to their owners.” Sara Grace, Facebook, Dec. 5, 2020

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The Facebook post, dated Dec. 1, pictured a close-up shot of a gold wedding band on a white background. A glimpse of an engraving was barely visible.

“Are you John or Colleen?” posted Matt Sherman of Brooklyn, N.Y. “Did you recently lose a wedding band, possibly near Henry and Atlantic in Brooklyn? If you are one of these two people or know the couple, would you please put them in touch with me? I would love to return it!!! PLEASE SHARE!!!”

As the quest to find the proper ring finger beamed out via social media, John Tebeau, BS ’86, was carefully combing the Brooklyn apartment he shared with his wife, Colleen Newvine Tebeau, MBA ’05. He was desperate to find that very same wedding band.

“It’s one of my superpowers, losing things,” he says.

He searched for days before telling Colleen he’d lost it. Then they both looked together. “Nada,” Colleen says. It did not occur to either of them to check social media. Why would they?

With this ring…

Tebeau Wedding 2000

Michigan alumni John Tebeau and Colleen Newvine Tebeau were married in Ann Arbor in 2000. (Image courtesy of the Tebeaus.)

The Tebeaus met and married in Ann Arbor in 2000, before moving to New York in 2006 and settling in Brooklyn in 2009. Colleen is a marketing consultant and coach, as well as part-time product manager of the AP Stylebook at the Associated Press. John is a digital communications/marketing consultant, as well as an accomplished artist, author, photographer, and bartender.

He also is a realist. When it looked as though his wedding band was gone for good, John sent up a prayer to St. Anthony. Perhaps the patron saint of lost objects would answer his plea.

“I lose a lot of stuff, so even though I’m not Catholic, I know the St. Anthony prayer by heart, because hey, you never know,” he says.

… an interesting coincidence

Tebeaus in New Orleans

John Tebeau supplied this photo of the couple in New Orleans because “it shows both wedding rings.” So sweet. (Image courtesy of the Tebeaus.)

A few nights later, a woman in the Brooklyn Heights group for the @buynothingproject sent Colleen a private message. Did her husband, John, lose his wedding ring? Because she had just seen a post in a neighborhood mom’s group about a found ring engraved “John + Colleen.”

Colleen was certain it was John’s ring! She searched out the original post on Instagram. The poster was Matt Sherman, chief marketing executive at New York’s Handsome Brook Farms, an industry leader in organic, pasture-raised eggs. Colleen noticed Matt followed a University of Michigan account, “an interesting coincidence.” When she messaged him to claim John’s ring, she asked if he by chance went to Michigan … and discovered he graduated not just from Michigan, but from Michigan Ross — with an MBA degree in 2005, the same school and year she did.

She was dumbfounded and posted to her FB account: “Come on, in a city of 8 million people, our hero has the same Michigan diploma and degree I do? If I saw this set of coincidences and connections play out in a Tom Hanks & Meg Ryan movie, I would roll my eyes all the way back in my skull.”

Band together

Those coincidences and connections began to emerge when Matt Sherman took his daughter to the dentist Dec. 1 and his eye caught something shiny in the leaves next to the curb.

“I went to pick it up,” he says, adding, “Who doesn’t pick up shiny things?”

Matt examined the gold wedding band and noticed a worn inscription. He struggled to make it out.

“I finally realized it was two names and a date and I was like, ‘Holy crap! Not only is this someone’s wedding band, but I might actually be able to track them down.’”

After a chat with the dentist and hygienists about how small a world Brooklyn can be, Matt came home, photographed the ring on his windowsill, and posted his message to Facebook and Instagram.

Matt’s wife, Sharon, shared the notice at their elementary school’s alumni listserv. (Sharon also is a Wolverine, Class of 2004.)

Within a few hours, the connection to Colleen was made.

Matt initiated his own online research, and was just as surprised as Colleen when he identified the Michigan connection. “The network is real!” he says. “And then I saw Colleen graduated in 2005 from Ross, and I thought, ‘Wait, do I know her? What section was she in?’”

All roads lead to A2

Tebeaus at apt.

John and Colleen outside their apartment where fellow Wolverine, Jessica Broome, PhD, had written a chalk greeting for them to mark their 20th anniversary. (Image: Instagram.)

Though they’d never met, the couples do live in the same neighborhood and share several U-M connections, Michigan Ross friends, and random Facebook friends. Once they connected, Matt told them where he found the ring, and it all made sense to John and Colleen. That pile of leaves was just across from Long Island Bar, a favorite watering hole.

“We sat outside and had drinks there one chilly evening, and the best we can figure, maybe John’s hands got so cold that his ring slipped off, and he didn’t hear it because it fell in the leaves,” Colleen says.

Matt says the couple was “so nice and gracious,” but he had to be sure the ring really belonged to them. The inscription included their wedding date, so he asked each one individually to tell him their anniversary.

“I felt like I should just double-check (though I had no doubt it was theirs),” he says. “It really was because they just celebrated 20 years, and I wanted to say congrats!”

St. Anthony to the rescue

The ring is back on John's finger

Matt Sherman (left) makes sure John Tebeau’s ring got back on his finger in record time. (Image courtesy of Tebeau.)

The wedding band was back on John’s finger by Dec. 3.

“I’m lucky as hell, so it wasn’t a huge surprise when it was found,” he says. “But still, my first thought was, ‘St. Anthony, you’ve done it again, by Jove!’

“Then I saw the Instagram pic of my ring, all close-up and personal, and I thought buying a new ring to celebrate our 20th year wouldn’t have been so bad. Colleen was tickled pink, though, so that made me pretty glad. ‘Happy wife, happy life,’ as they say.”

Colleen finds symbolism in how beat up John’s ring is. “That’s the physical evidence of the two decades we’ve spent together,” she says. “And having someone in the Buy Nothing community save us from having to buy a new ring to replace it felt poetic, too.”

To show his appreciation, John wrote three checks to three charities with “for St. Anthony” in the memo line.

Love connection

The joyous social media posts that followed the tale are a precious reminder of the need for love and connection after such a dark and sad year.

Colleen posted a shout-out to her Ross FB friends who did know Matt in b-school: “Mary Hallahan and Darren Rich, your section mate is a hero!”

Matt was as thrilled to return the ring as the couple was to reclaim it. “I told Colleen, ‘If this is real, it is the best damn thing to happen this year.’”

He played it cool online, though, despite the fact that he basically pulled off a maize-and-blue miracle.

“Honestly,” he posted, “the lesson for us all: Engrave your wedding bands!”
 
 
Note: Both Colleen Newvine Tebeau and John Tebeau have contributed to Michigan Today. Read Colleen’s coverage of Burning Man at MT, featuring photos by John. Read about John’s love affair with awesome watering holes in What’s the Buzz at MT.

Comments

  1. steve mariotti - 1975,1977

    What an incredible story. I read it twice and it was so inspirational it is now up on my bulleting board so I can see it every morning. thank you for sharing. steve

    Reply

    • Kathy Zavela - Michigan-1972 & 1975

      Wonderful story! I usually pray to St. Jude when St. Anthony is busy or on vacation.

      Reply

  2. Catherine M. Sabbe - 1977-MCL U of M Law School

    What a great story of solidarity and belief. I do believe in Saint Anthony. What is the prayer in the U.S.?

    Best Wishes for a better 2021 to the U of M community.

    Reply

    • Christine Wiedrich - 1985

      “Dear St.Anthony, please come ‘round. Something’s lost that can’t be found.” I’m a believer, too. Go Blue!

      Reply

      • Deb Sullivan - 1979

        I have frequently invoked the version my friend and fellow UM SON grad taught me from her Polish neighborhood in Chicago… “Tony, Tony, look around, help me find what can’t be found!”

        Reply

      • John Tebeau - 1982

        That’s the one I use. Said it thrice, and bingo: Matt found it the next day.

        Reply

        • Susan Mathews

          I also am not Catholic, but heard of St Anthony thru a friend at work. She had evoked him to find a semi-precious earring I had lost – and it worked. So when I lost a very important ring that I’d had since childhood I asked St Anthony to help, with a promise if it worked. It did! And I fulfilled my promise to him. Coincidence or reality – it doesn’t matter – it works.
          Best Wishes John and Colleen

          Reply

        • Mark Corbett

          Hi John, great story. My daughter just graduated from UM and accepted a job at HelloFresh in NYC. She will be moving to Brooklyn soon so I bought her your book
          Great story and and the UM connections live on…..

          Reply

  3. Betsy Varian - 1973 School of Social Work

    This is the best story I’ve heard in a long time! Congratulations to John, Colleen, and Matt for resolving the mystery of the lost ring and reconnecting! A happy ending to a sad year.

    Happy Holidays to all!

    Reply

    • John Tebeau - 1986

      Thanks, Betsy!

      Reply

  4. Bruce Whitney - 1971

    My ring losses predate social media. Not leaves but sand to the rescue. I am a surfer. Rings and cold water in Jersey surf – bad idea. Lost two. BUT, inscription to the rescue as Autumn winds blew the top layers of sand off the beach to expose the 2d one lost & found. My social media of the time, the surfer community along the Bay Head beaches. Never get a new ring. It’s your lucky charm.

    Reply

  5. Janette Phillips - 1981, BBA

    This story literally brought tears to my eyes! Thank you for sharing it and so happy to know people still try so hard to help! Happy Holidays and Go Blue!

    Reply

  6. Rebecca Banks - School of Nursing 1976

    Amazing story! When I lose things, all too often as the years roll on, I pray to the Lord Jesus Christ. He knows where everything is!
    Happy Christmas everyone!

    Reply

  7. Patricia Wiita - 1970

    This was a good tear jerker story! What a happy ending! I am so glad the ring was reunited to the owner!
    I read this today December 19 on our 50th Anniversary–not too much party because of Covid-19 stay at home time, but such good memories of our time at UM–kind of had a “Friends” experience at 1010 Catherine apartments our senior year. Husband Verle DDS 1970, Me BSN1970. Go Blue!!!!

    Reply

    • Judith Wright Fortino - 1969

      To Patricia Witta – we may have passed in the halls of Old Main, the S of N, or 1010 Catherine depending on when you moved in! I lived there, second floor right above the front entrance canopy from May 1968 to May 1969 when I graduated with my BSN! It truly is a small world filled with Michigan grads! This story is great!

      Reply

  8. Leslie Rogers Manix - 1973 (Dec)

    I love this story and I love my U of M colleagues. I’m not surprised that there evolved a U of M friendship among several people in Brooklyn! I moved to Lancaster, PA the end of 2012 and there wasn’t a U of M alumni club here, so I started one on Meet Up. I’ve met some very special people here, having moved here only knowing two people, friends of my husband. Through my U of M fan club, I actually met a dorm-mate of mine and several folks between five years older and 25 years younger. Great to have instant long term friends!

    Reply

  9. Blitz Rowsey - 1988

    John and Colleen are the best people in the world. I’m so happy to hear about this amazing story. Thanks for writing this article.

    I’ve known John all our lives and Colleen since the 90s. I know John really beat himself up for losing his ring so what an amazing way the ring found its way back to him.

    The world would be a better place if everyone had a life-long friend like John. I named my son after him and he takes my kids around whenever they get up there. He knows NYC like the back of his hand. Whenever I get up there, I don’t even have to say anything. He already knows I want to visit, McSorley’s, Lombardi’s and B&H Photo first off the bat.

    Then we go bar hopping to several of the bars and taverns he’s researched for his book, book “Bars, Taverns, and Dives New Yorkers Love: Where to Go, What to Drink” available on Amazon. It’s really well organized with each place be described with history, how and when to go, what to order and where to sit. It’s a real fun book. Anyone going to NYC must have it and if you already live there, it’s a fun read. He did all the superb artwork in the book and the drawings are all for sale. I have several hanging up.

    He charges $1500 to give you a tour, be your friend and bar hop. Ok I’m kidding about that. But he’d be constantly booked up if he was a tour guide. I’m looking forward to Covid being over so I can get up there again.

    I can’t wait to touch that ring for good luck. This is so incredible. How does that happen?

    Reply

    • John Tebeau - 1986

      Blitz! Haha, you sonofagun you! (Don’t believe it all, folks. We’re pretty average.)

      See ya, man!

      Reply

  10. Gwen Burke - 1996

    This is such a great story!! Been such a hard year – love this happy ending. Go Blue!

    Reply

  11. Carole and Luke Stephan - Carole 63-Bachelor of Music, 68-Master of Music Education; Master of Social Work

    “Happy Anniversary! I found your wedding ring!” said the nice lady on the phone. I was speechless! It was a miracle! I had lost my wedding ring 25 years earlier! I could hardily believe the words.
    My wife Carole had placed the ring on my finger and it was a symbol of the unbroken love and trust in our marriage. But it came up missing 🙁. We looked high and low but couldn’t find it. I thought I may have lost it when doing yard work outside our home in Bay City, Michigan. I rented a metal detector and ran it back and forth over our lawn, but my ring was still missing. Carole eventually stopped in at the Lost and Found Department at the Michigan Stadium, thinking that I may have flung the ring off of my finger while energetically doing The Wave at a football game. But my ring was not at the Lost and Found. Carole bought me another wedding ring to wear.
    Well, eventually we sold our home in Bay City and moved to Ann Arbor. The last thing I did when departing our home in Bay City was to write a note to the new home owners how to contact me if they found my wedding ring. My ring never showed up, and we hardly thought about it any more. Our former home in Bay City changed
    hands again. We knew we would not see my ring again.
    Then, while on a vacation trip to Arizona, my cell phone rang and I heard the wonderful words of the speaker on
    the phone! She said she had been adjusting some Christmas decorations around a bush in front of the home we used to live in, and she saw something shiny at the bottom of the bush. There wasn’t a lot of snow that year. She picked it up and saw it was a man’s wedding ring. She read the inscription inside the ring: “To Luke with love, Carole. 12/27/1969”. She immediately realized that she only had one day to find the owner of the ring to tell him she found his ring and to tell him and his wife Happy Anniversary, as it was December 26. She called a next door neighbor who remembered my name, got my cell phone number by calling the place where I used to work, and placed the call. My wife and I thought it was a miracle! It was unbelievable. Several weeks went by and this kind lady, together with her mother and her son, came to our home in Ann Arbor and gave me my ring in a ring box. I had my wife place it on my finger while saying what she said in our wedding ceremony, “With this ring I thee wed in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.” This wonderful woman’s husband is one of the editors of the newspapers in Bay City and Saginaw, Mi. He had a reporter from The Ann Arbor News come to our home to get the story, which was printed up in several Michigan newspapers. Also, it was picked up by the Associated Press and printed by a number of newspapers around the country. I’m wearing my original wedding ring right now, and Carole and I are looking forward to celebrate our 51st Anniversary this coming Sunday. We celebrate the many blessings God has blessed us with, and the kindness of the lady who wanted to give me my ring and to tell us Happy Anniversary.

    Reply

    • Deborah Holdship

      What an amazing and wonderful story!!!! Thank you so much for sharing. I love it.

      Reply

      • John Furkioti - 1986

        Great story! Though not a wedding ring, I lost my M class ring on the UM Golf Course while playing a twilight round of golf following my last UM final exam in April, 1986. The ring had been given to me by my parents just a week prior and I didn’t have the heart to tell them it was already lost. Since I don’t wear rings when I play golf, I had made the mistake of putting it in my pocket–the same one from which I pulled my tees on every hole. I had apparently pulled a tee out and accidentally also pulled out my class ring. As was the case in the Tebeau story, I couldn’t hear the ring fall on the grass. Fortunately, my parents had the ring engraved with my name and a Wolverine grad student found it the next day, looked my phone number up in a UM directory (this was pre-internet) and returned it to me. I still wear the same ring proudly! It is always reassuring to know there STILL are good honest people around, and it’s not surprising in either story that they were M Alumni!

        GO BLUE!!!

        Reply

    • Colleen Newvine - MBA '05

      WOW! That is just incredible! He didn’t just find it; he did the detective work to hunt you down, and in time for your big anniversary. So beautiful!
      (And since I used to work for the Ann Arbor News, and now work at the AP, I was nodding vigorously. Yes of course they wanted that story! A heartwarming tale at Christmastime? They’d have been fools to pass that up.)

      Reply

    • John Tebeau - 1986

      Wow, Luke— That’s just amazing. Congrats!

      Reply

  12. Jil Gordon - 1974 Art & Design BFA

    What a wonderful story and outcome. Kudos to John for his gratitude/donations to charities. It was a gift/miracle from God, and the catalysts were St. Anthony, Matt and the maize and blue. We are all connected. Here is the actual and not watered down prayer. Merry Christmas and a Blessed (Better) New Year to all! Go Blue!

    Saint Anthony, perfect imitator of Jesus, who received from God the special power of restoring lost things, grant that I may find (mention your petition) which has been lost. At least restore to me peace and tranquility of mind, the loss of which has afflicted me even more than my material loss. To this favor I ask another of you: that I may always remain in possession of the true good that is God. Let me rather lose all things than lose God, my supreme good. Let me never suffer the loss of my greatest treasure, eternal life with God. Amen.

    Reply

    • Karen Hollingsworth - Nursing, 1976

      Jil, I love ya sister. So fun to trip on your name while reading this amazing story and some pretty awesome stories in the comments as well.
      Go Blue!
      Wiz

      Reply

  13. Cyrilla Menon - 2001

    I also have a yard-work ring story. While playing outside with my young son, a car drove by and stopped to look at the house. I struck up a conversation with the couple. They had lived there 25 years earlier and were visiting friends. I joked about needing to mow the yard… the man replied that he had lost his wedding ring somewhere in ‘that yard years ago.’ I looked at him and replied, ‘Nope, you lost in the bushes up by the porch. I found it last year pulling them out.’ The ring was united with its original owner!

    Reply

    • John Tebeau - 1986

      Very cool, Cyrilla!

      Reply

  14. Luke Stephan - Luke: 1986 Master of Social Work, U of M

    Thank you for publishing our story about how my wedding ring was returned to me after it was missing for 25 years! And thanks for the kind remarks. So happy for you John and Colleen! Your story inspired us to share ours. And it has been good to read other heart warming stories!

    Reply

  15. Miodrag Kukrika - 1972

    It was one of the coldest days in NYC in either January or February 2016 when while taking off the glove from my left hand to pay the cabbie I pulled off my wedding band. I didn’t notice till I got to my hotel room.
    I felt absolutely terrible and immediately the next morning began the search in hope that either another passenger might have found my lost ring and would give it to the driver or call the T&L company in NYC and let them know about the ring somebody lost in the cab.
    I tried everything I could. I even found out the name of the cab driver and the # of his medallion but to no avail.
    Fortunately I had my wife’s wedding band. She had passed on 12 years before this happened and I took it to a jeweler in my town and she made a wonderful replica which I still wear on my left ringer finger today, 17 years since she passed on and 58 years since we were married.

    Reply

  16. robert gray - 1964

    great things happen to GO BLUE Alumni Fantastic. Would never happen today with wedding band you buy the plastic one 6 at a time. Congratulations to all involved. Prayer and honesty is a great combination .

    Reply

  17. Kelly (Kavanaugh) Rindfusz - BFA '89

    OK, now I’m crying. God bless and GO BLUE!

    Reply

  18. Bob and Sharon Touchton - Bob MBA 1971 Sharon AMLS 1969

    My Ann Arbor ring story is a bit different. Bob and I got engaged the spring of 1972 while he was in his first year of law school at the University of Arizona and I was still in Ann Arbor teaching school. He had no money for a ring so my folks gave me my grandmother’s ring to have the diamond remounted. I picked it up from Jacobsen’s jewelry dept. on a Tuesday. Decided not to tell my roommates that I had it because I was flying out to Tucson on Thursday and thought Bob should be the first to see it. When I came home from school on Wednesday, our apt. in Woodbury Gardens off Stadium, had been robbed and my ring among other things was gone! I called my roommate who was working on campus. She told me she had ridden her bike to work that day, that I should come get her, and we would call the police together. Never saw my ring again and when I took her back to campus that night to retrieve her bike, it had been stolen! I always tell my husband that the first thing I am going to do when I get to heaven is find out who stole my ring!

    Reply

  19. Heidi Braun - 1984

    Incredible! And heartwarming! Wishing you and yours well!
    Heidi

    Reply

  20. william Giovan - Law 1961

    Go Blue!

    Reply

  21. Bonnie Chan - 1965 School of Education

    What a wonderful heart-warming story! This is the week following the break in at the Capitol. I have been crushed following the news. We lived though such horrors in the 60’s, but this threat to our very democracy has taken a toll. I loved the background; I loved the St. Anthony connection; I loved the Buy Nothing connection., as well. Thank you for sharing; thank you for reminding me of the underlying goodness of people! Also, thanks for reminding me of the great U of M and its core of excellence. Go Blue!

    Bonnie (English) Chan

    Reply

    • Laura Sparrow - 1969

      Bonnie, I had a dear friend at Martha Cook named Jane English. Could she possibly have been a younger sister?

      Reply

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