On a fine sunny afternoon this past March, Dawn Boyles decided to take her grandson over to Lake Fort Phantom Hill for a leisurely walk. While passing by a cluster of rocks, Dawn noticed a shiny object reflecting the mid-day sun back at her. What she found ended up kicking off an ongoing story that neither Dawn nor McMurry realized would soon take over the Big Country region at large.
A small class ring with the initials “W.N.B.” and “1951” was pulled from the rocks. The inscription encircling the top left no doubt that the prized piece of jewelry was once owned by an alum. And it looked like that alum had graduated some 72 years ago.
Dawn reached out to the McMurry Marketing & Communications Department about her find. She asked us if anyone at the school might know about the identity of “W.N.B.” After searching through older copies of McMurry’s Totem yearbook, we learned of a man named Winnifred Bollinger, who graduated with a Bachelor of Science in 1951. Crucially, there were no other 1951 graduates with the initials “W.N.B.”, so we were fairly confident that ring once belonged to Mr. Bollinger.
McMurry reached out to our contacts at KTAB News here in Abilene, and what followed was a two-part feature that eventually led to us to find Winnifred’s extended family. Winnifred was known to the ones he loved as “Winkie” Bollinger, and though he had no children of his own, he was an uncle to many nieces and nephews that still reside in the Big Country. After speaking with one of those nephews, we were advised to add Winkie’s ring to our Centennial Museum in Old Main.
Visitors to McMurry’s campus are welcome to come view Mr. Bollinger’s ring, which is notated with a card that reads: “Class Ring of Winifred N. Bollinger, McMurry Class of 1951. Found at Lake Fort Phantom and returned by Dawn and Jeff Boyles. May this ring and its miraculous discovery serve as a reminder of the McMurry spirit that is still found in the Big Country. Acknowledging their invaluable assistance in identifying the owner of this ring are Noah McKinney, Christopher Bartlett, Nicholas Ocheltree, Denise Mattie, Sarah Driskell, Wesley E. Stine, and others not listed here.“
You can view KTAB’s features on the ring at the following links: