Dan Ferrell ’71 had forgotten all about his class ring – until he got an email from the Miami University Alumni Association
By Jesús Jiménez, assistant director of digital content
Dan Ferrell ’71 was only at Miami University two years, but it still holds a special place in his heart.
This year, the Miami University Alumni Association will celebrate the 50th anniversary of his graduating class, the Class of 1971, with a virtual reunion during Alumni Weekend.
Dan started his reunion celebration early, as he was mysteriously reunited with his class ring about 25 years after losing it.
“Kind of a freaky situation,” Dan said. “About a month ago, I got an email out of the blue from Mark (Macechko, Miami’s senior director of alumni relations) that said that somebody on Facebook had contacted the Murstein Alumni Center and said they were in possession of a Miami University class ring, Class of 1971.”
Alumni Weekend, Miami’s annual event dedicated to alumni, family and friends, will be celebrated virtually from June 10-12 and features events for the whole family, including virtual reunions for the Classes of 1970 and 1971, Glee Club and Hillel reunions and much more.
The mysterious ring
The hero of this story is Mark Unruh, a Salvation Army team member who found the ring in a bin in Erie, Pennsylvania, about four years ago.
“I was trying to wait and see if someone had donated by mistake as sometimes happens,” he said.
“Whenever we find personal items like family pictures or keepsakes that were donated by mistake, we try to find their owners to get them back home.”
When he was appointed to a new position in Scranton, Mark took the ring with him. Then, he forgot about it until he was transferred again, this time to Pittsburgh. That’s when he decided to reach out to Miami in hopes of finding its owner.
Mark Macechko did his research. First, the class year was 1971. Then, the ring featured the letters TKE on the stone and DLF in the band.
TKE was the Tau Kappa Epsilon fraternity, of which Dan was a member, and Dan was the only member from the Class of 1971 with those initials: Daniel Lee Ferrell.
“I had forgotten all about that ring,” Dan said. “With seven moves in my first 11 years after leaving Miami – including a coast-to-coast – I let it get away from me somewhere along the line, and I don’t even remember when it disappeared.”
The bigger mystery? How did it end up in Erie?
“I’ve never done anything in Erie, Pennsylvania, except drive through it on I-90,” he added. “Once in 1973 and once again in 2013. Some things are simply inexplicable!”
Coming home to Mother Miami
Dan is a Miamian through and through – but didn’t initially enroll here.
His first trip to Miami was as a member of the Centerville Elks Marching Band in 1964. When it came time to pick his college, he opted to play for the University of Kentucky Marching Band. He transferred to Indiana University for his sophomore year but later decided to return to his home state and transferred to Miami.
“I came back home to Mother Miami where I probably should’ve gone to in the first place,” he said.
Dan majored in international studies, and upon graduating, moved to Seattle, where he worked as a communications director and founded the Seattle Chapter of the alumni association.
He served as chapter coordinator for 20 years and fed his passion for Miami by attending as many Miami football games as possible. It was during a 1973 trip to a game against Eastern Michigan that he purchased the ring.
“I had lost track of it some 20, 25 years ago, and I assumed it was lost forever,” Dan said. “The odd thing about it is this is my class reunion year, so I get a ring returned to me a couple of months before Alumni Weekend.”
Alumni Profile: Dan Ferrell ’71
Favorite Spot on Campus:
The iconic view of MacCracken from the Tri-Delt Sundial, The Hub and The Cradle of Coaches Plaza”
Watching Simon and Garfunkel perform Bridge over Troubled Water for the very first time in public, which was at Millett Hall, aftermath of the Rowan Hall takeover and Margaret Mead as commencement speaker.”
Rewarding 36-year career with the U.S. Social Security Administration, retiring in 2006 as the Seattle regional communications director.
Serving from 2008-2017 as the Cape Fear (N.C.) area’s strategic director for the 10-Year Plan to End Chronic Homelessness under the auspices of United Way.
Founding the Miami University Seattle Alumni Chapter in 1977 and hosting visits of Presidents Shriver, Pearson and Hodge, John Dolibois, Football Coach Randy Walker and others as the chapter’s coordinator.
A 16-season stint as a volunteer assistant in the Seattle Mariners Clubhouse – I lived the dream!
Watching my only son graduate from the University of Chicago Law School (via Zoom) during my 50th anniversary Hughes Society Alumni Weekend (Zoom) on June 12.”
Favorite spot uptown:
The Purity, Skyline Chili and John Minnis Pharmacy after some nights at the Purity.”