It was one of their legendary family reunions on Thanksgiving weekend, 2011. Gathered at a Wisconsin waterpark were the daughters of the late David Schlichting '75, their mother, spouses, and all their children and grandchildren.
"The whole time we were talking about rings," said Michelle "Shelly" O'Brien, Schlichting's oldest daughter.
During the weekend, middle daughter Lisa had a moment of panic when she looked down at her ring-less left hand. "She laughed, remembering that she had left her wedding ring at home because she was afraid of losing it on the waterslide," O'Brien said.
"Throughout the weekend there were ring gifts too," she added. "I bought Lisa a ring for her upcoming birthday and my sister Stacy brought my granddaughter Melissa a mood ring. It was uncanny."
But there was another ring waiting for the sisters, one that would bring unexpected comfort. When Lisa returned home to Batavia, Ill., she found a message about a 1975 St. Ambrose class ring that had been found in a sewer in Eldridge, Iowa. "Because of the initials inside the band, the university had traced it to our father and because he had passed away, they called my sister," O'Brien said.
Their father graduated from St. Ambrose at the age of 34. How his class ring ended up in a sewer baffled the sisters. Schlichting, who died in 2004, had been a 30-year employee of Iowa American Water Co., but had only worked at the plant.
"I automatically started crying when Lisa called me with the news," O'Brien said. "We're Catholic and firm believers in signs. This was a sign from our dad, and suddenly the whole weekend all tied together. I believe my Dad is watching over us.
"We lost him so young, but we will forever hold him in our thoughts, memories and hearts."
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