Return of the Ring – Hobart and William Smith Colleges \
The HWS Update

Return of the Ring

Saule Pilati ’56 returned to campus this fall under mysterious circumstances. A letter with a small package had arrived at the Colleges containing something very exciting, something that Pilati hadn’t seen in 40 years: his class ring. This class ring was purchased during Pilati’s senior year at the behest of his parents, Italian immigrants who never had the chance to go to college themselves. Pilati was the first in his family to attend college, “an incredible thrill” for his parents. The class ring exemplified their pride. Imagine, then, how distraught Pilati felt when, after camping in the Adirondacks with his wife in 1974, he looked down to realize the ring was no longer on his finger. Their search for the ring was fruitless; with a heavy heart, Pilati returned home and broke the news to his mother. She told him not to worry, but still asked from time to time, “Have you heard any news about it?” “And we figured it never would be found,” he recounts.   Years passed; Pilati established a career teaching mathematics at West Irondequoit High School in Irondequoit, N.Y., delighted when his students chose to attend HWS. His wife bought him a replacement ring in the ’90s, which he liked a lot, but – as he says – “nothing could replace the original.” Then, amazingly, a Canadian hiker happened upon the ring at Fourth Lake in the Adirondacks, N.Y. After unsuccessful attempts to find the ring’s owner, she stopped searching, but held on to the ring just in case. “I think she put it in a drawer and forgot about it!” Pilati jokes. Then, years later, the hiker reached out to the Colleges with a letter in another attempt to find the ring’s owner. Because Pilati’s initials and graduation year were engraved on the band, and the letters of his fraternity – Beta Sigma Tau – were on the stone, Assistant Vice President of Alumni Relations and Annual Giving Jared Weeden ’91 was able to make the match. That’s when Pilati got the mysterious phone call and invitation back to campus. When Weeden asked where he’d like to meet, Pilati simply replied, “Campus. Pick a place and I’ll be there.” “I think Jared was more excited than I was!” he adds. Forty years after its loss, Pilati was finally reunited with his ring in his “favorite spot,” in front of Coxe Hall on The Quad, and now gets to wear it as a reminder of his fond memories of HWS. “Coming from where I came – not to make it maudlin or anything – it was a dream. Coming from Jefferson High School [in the city of Rochester, N.Y.,], I had to work hard. I found a good bunch of guys in Beta Sig, and we helped each other out. It was probably four of the best years of my life.”

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