Sixty Years Later, Alumnus Finds Missing Class Ring
Furman's Homecoming festivities, I heard an amazing story about an
alumnus. In 1941 Roy Walters graduated from Furman. The son of a North
Carolina cotton broker, he was the first member of his family to receive
a college degree.
A few months later, after the Japanese attack
at Pearl Harbor, the biology major and football player joined the
Marines as a second lieutenant. In August 1942, his unit, the First
Marine Division, was sent more than 9,000 miles to the southwest Pacific
Ocean to help dislodge the Japanese from Guadalcanal in the Solomon
The Battle of Guadalcanal was fought amid terrible
conditions. The American forces battled oppressive heat and humidity,
blood-sucking leeches and debilitating malaria as well as tenacious
During a lull in the fighting, Walters's
platoon was loaded onto trucks and driven to the Lunga River to bathe.
The men stripped off their mud-caked boots and soiled uniforms and
plunged into the clear water. After an hour or so, they dressed and
headed back through the jungle to their entrenchments.
return, Lt. Walters realized that his Furman class ring was missing. He
received permission to look for it, but his search in the pebble-lined
river bottom proved fruitless. His prized possession, less than a year
old, was gone.
A few months later Lt. Walters boarded ship with
his platoon and sailed to Australia, where he met and married an
Australian woman. After the war ended, they settled in his hometown of
Monroe, N.C. A few years later, Elaine Walters surprised her husband by
presenting him with a replacement ring she had ordered through Furman.
Lt. Walters eventually retired from the Marines as a lieutenant colonel,
and he and Elaine raised two daughters and a son.
2003, more than 60 years after losing his Furman ring in a Guadalcanal
river, Roy Walters received a call from the alumni office at Furman. His
long-lost ring had been found. Carol Ann Parker, a resident of Maine,
had come across the ring and contacted the university.
explained that her father had operated a large dry cleaning firm near
Portland, Maine, a key American military harbor during World War II. The
military contracted with her father to clean thousands of uniforms
after the servicemen returned to civilian life. Before cleaning the
items, he would check the pockets for any personal items. Whatever he
found, he placed in boxes in case anyone would claim them. After the dry
cleaning company shut down, the boxes of items went into the family
attic, where they sat for more than 40 years before Parker decided to
look through them. When she found the Furman University ring with Roy
Walters' name inscribed in it, she called the alumni office, whereupon a
staff member contacted him and mailed the ring.
Walters in turn
called Carol Ann Parker to thank her. He was so grateful, she recalls.
He kept saying, You don't know what that meant to me.' Apparently,
his lost ring had always been in a buttoned trouser pocket.
Colonel Walters has two class rings. But he wears neither of them around
his home at Brighton Gardens in Greenville, where he has recently
moved. Now in his 80s, he has lost weight over the years and his fingers
are too slender to hold a ring. And he doesn't want to risk losing a
Instead, he keeps both rings prominently displayed
for all to see. He remains a loyal member of one of Furman's most loyal
classes the great class of 1941. As the Marines say, Semper Fi!