When Sandy Grebin and her husband, Ray, went to Don Bessette Motors in Minot Tuesday to finish their purchase of a pickup truck, she never expected she'd also be getting back her class ring that she lost more than 30 years ago.
"It was more like a God thing the way things played out and kind of by chance," Sandy Grebin said Tuesday on the circumstances that day.
The Grebins went to Don Bessette Motors Tuesday afternoon and met with sales representative Tom Forbes to finish their deal on the pickup. Forbes took them in to see Kristi Burgess, one of the two finance managers at Don Bessette Motors,
Sandy Grebin, center, shows the Sawyer High School class ring that she lost 30 years ago that Kristi Burgess, right, gave to her this week at Don Bessette Motors in Minot. Tom Forbes, left, a sales representative for the business, had a hand in connecting Grebin with Burgess. Grebin thought the ring was gone forever. Burgess found it in her mother’s belongings but never could locate Grebin – until a vehicle deal brought them together Tuesday.
Burgess said Forbes certainly had a hand in the ring episode playing out. "Without a doubt, I don't know how this would have ever worked otherwise," she said. She said it also was his first sale as a sales representative there.
Burgess recounted the events that day.
Ray Grebin had made a deal on a vehicle and his wife, Sandy, just needed to come in and sign the document. The Grebins moved to North Dakota from Rapid City, S.D., recently.
"When Sandy came in I recognized her, even though I hadn't seen her in more than 30 years. But I didn't put together the ring and her," Burgess said.
Burgess said Sandy Grebin, then Sandy Turner, had been a friend of her sister, Karen. "They were friends in high school and the last time I would have seen Sandy I would have been 12," Burgess said. Grebin and Burgess' sister had not been in contact in the past years.
While Sandy Grebin was in Burgess' office at Don Bessettes, they started talking about Sawyer. "We were just making small talk about people we know and where she's from because I knew she had just moved back here. I asked if she knew the name Guttormson because I recognized her but again, I was so young.
"She didn't at first. And then I kind of dug a little more and she did know the name and I said, 'Oh my god. I think I have your class ring.' The Sawyer thing set off a light bulb she knew my sister, I recognized her face and it was, honest to god, divine intervention that it all came together," Burgess said.
Burgess said she came across the ring about five years ago. "It was in my mother's (Lilas Guttormson) belongings in a storage unit. "Lots of those items haven't been gone through so it's kind of ironic I would find jewelry, and jewelry that would belong to somebody else," Burgess said.
The Guttormson family lived on a farm near Ryder and went to church in Minot, where Grebin and Burgess' sister got to know each other, Burgess said.
"When I recovered the ring I did not have a clue who it belonged to because I just didn't even put my siblings together with it," Burgess said. She thought it might have belonged to someone she knew but when she looked at the year on the ring it was "1976."
"I became curious because it was Sawyer," Burgess said. She started to research who graduated in Sawyer Class of '76 who had the initials that were on the inside of the ring. "There was no name, just the initials 'SKT.' Grebin said the initials stand for Sandra Kay Turner.
Burgess found out that Grebin was in that class. "And I obviously put together that somehow it ended up in our possesion because of that relationship with my sister," she said.
She contacted Sawyer School but was not able to find out how to reach Grebin. She was referred to someone in the community who had reunion information but that person didn't have contact information. Grebin's mother had moved and another relative did not know how to reach Grebin, Burgess recalled.
"I ran into brick walls," she said. "I tried the Internet and was able to find some connection to South Dakota. I remember that," she said. She tried a phone number but it went unanswered. "That was the end of the quest because I had no other idea how to reach her until yesterday (Tuesday)."
When Burgess realized this was the owner of the class ring, she said, "I literally did their car deal, left them sitting here and ran across town (to her house) and brought back the ring on my finger. And she said, 'Oh my god. That's my ring!' Burgess related.
She said Grebin's eyes welled up and she had tears. "I held it together but my eyes welled up," Burgess said.
"I just was so thankful. I always had wanted to return it to the rightful owner. It meant just as much to me getting it back in her hands and the joy in her face receiving it. I'm still amazed at the circumstance of events," said Burgess. She said it was quite incredible that she was working at the business when the Grebins came in. She had worked there previously, left and then returned Sept. 1.
Grebin said she and Kristi's sister, Karen, used to hang out together. She said she recalled losing the ring 30 or 31 years ago. "I thought it was gone," she said.
Coincidentally, she said she told her husband only one or two weeks ago that she thought she lost her class ring in the Turtle Mountains when she was at a church retreat.
She said she was surprised that Kristi's mother had the ring. "And the fact that her mom held onto it," Grebin said. She said she was the only person in the Sawyer Class of '76 with the initials "SKT."
The Grebins moved to North Dakota from Rapid City, S.D., in August and now live on the family farm near Max. She works for the Veterans Administration in a civilian capacity as a home telehealth nurse at the Minot Air Force Base hospital. She has spent much of her career in the military four years in the Army, six years in the National Guard North Dakota and Utah, and three years as a nurse in the Air Force.
When she saw the ring, she said, "I was so happy, I was so shocked. I figured years ago it was gone, but for it to show up it was amazing," she said.
When Grebin saw the ring, she said it "looked so shiny and new," Burgess said.
"To me the value in it was returning it to the rightful owners and I am so happy I got to do it and see the joy on her face," Burgess said. "It was a pretty neat deal."
"Who would think in a car dealership your long lost ring would get returned," Burgess said. "I mean you came here to buy a vehicle and walk out with your class ring."
"I think it's such a cool story," said Forbes.
"It was an unbelieveable kind of thing. We bought a truck and I got my ring," Grebin said.
Grebin and Burgess' sister, Karen Kelly, of Minot, also have reunited in a phone call Wednesday night.