Talk about a class reunion.
Arletta Pardoe Bateman, a member of the first graduating class of St. Hubert Catholic High School for Girls, hadn't seen her 1942 class ring for nearly 70 years.
While living in Baltimore in the mid-1940s, she gave the ring to John Dauplaise, whom she dated and affectionately called "Johnny."
Leaving her ring with Dauplaise, Arletta Pardoe returned to Philadelphia after two years of working in Maryland.
On July 23, 1945, she married George W. Bateman Jr., a decorated World War II pilot. The couple went on to have children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. As the years went on, the Bateman children began to wonder what happened to their mother's St. Hubert class ring.
"She said she gave it to somebody," said Bonnie Rambo, one of Bateman's 10 children and also an alumna of St. Hubert.
Dauplaise, who lived in Florida, died in 2001, but the ring remained in a small jewelry box. His son, Mark, found the box late last year and, knowing the ring didn't belong to the Dauplaise family, sought to return it to St. Hubert.
The mystery of the ring ended Tuesday, when the Catholic school returned the ring to its rightful owner.
"Oh, that's nice," said Bateman, 87, as she put on the 71-year-old ring at the Torresdale Avenue school. She said she'd "had an idea" who had the ring, but had not known John Dauplaise had a son.
"I never expected this," she said.
"It's something we never anticipated, because we knew the ring was gone," Rambo said as her mother smiled, the gold ring snug on her right ring finger. Rambo said it was "so thoughtful" for Mark Dauplaise to take the initiative in returning the ring to St. Hubert.
"I never expected who owned it would still be alive," Dauplaise said Tuesday night from Florida. "I know Arletta's name. Her and my dad dated while my dad was working during the war."
Dauplaise said it was "fantastic" that Bateman was reunited with her ring. John Dauplaise lived most of his life in Maryland. He later moved to Pennsylvania and then to Florida, where he lived the last 10 years of his life, his son said.
When he found the ring, he said, it looked "brand-new" and had no scratches.
"The ring must have meant a lot to my dad, because he never let go of it," Mark Dauplaise said.
The ring has the year 1942 imprinted on it and the initials of Bateman's maiden name. With that information, the school was able to look through its records and determine the ring belonged to the former Arletta Pardoe.
With some Internet research, school officials learned that she had been married to George Bateman, now deceased, and that she was still living in Northeast Philadelphia. That made Tuesday's reunion with her class ring possible.
"We are really excited about it," said Francis A. Farrell, president of St. Hubert.
In addition to returning the ring to Bateman, the school gave her a school mascot Bambi doll and a St. Hubert blanket.
Several of Bateman's family members, including great-granddaughter and St. Hubert senior Megan McGinley, joined her for Tuesday's event.
"It's really cool," said McGinley, who will receive her own class ring after she graduates in June.