When Kim Rossi accepted a Facebook friend request from Steve Killian, she had no idea of the surprise her new “friend” had in store for her.
It turns out that Killian had something that belonged to Rossi, and he wanted to return it.
The story begins in 1997, when Rossi lived on Iowa Street in Napa. One day, after taking her son to preschool, she returned home to find her house had been broken into.
“Everything was gone, all of my jewelry,” including her 1983 Napa High School class ring, recalled Rossi, whose name back then was Kim Cook.
Heartsick over the loss, she searched various pawn shops for months with no luck. “I never thought I’d see the ring again,” Rossi said.
It was about this same time that Killian, also living in Napa, bought a 1968 Impala from a co-worker. Several years later, he began restoring the car. Tearing up the carpet in the backseat, he found a gold class ring. On one side was the name “Kim,” and inside the band, the initials “KLC.” An image of a baton twirler decorated one side.
In the late ’80s, Killian had also attended Napa High. Even though he didn’t get his own class ring, “I would think it’s an important part of your history,” he said. He decided he’d try to find the owner.
He knew the ring didn’t belong to the woman he bought the car from, Killian said. For one thing, her name wasn’t Kim. The seller later moved out of town and “I don’t remember if I ever asked her if she knew anything about it,” he said.
In the pre-Facebook days, Killian had fewer search options. He went to the Napa High library to look at old yearbooks, which helped him narrow down his search to a 1983 graduate named Kim Cook. But “I didn’t have any luck” locating her, he said. Putting the ring aside, “I forgot about it” for several years.
After a recent move, he realized Facebook might help with his search.
Finding a Kim Cook Rossi listed on Facebook, he messaged her several times, hoping she would eventually reply. “Luckily, she did,” he said. “Once I started explaining everything she got real excited.”
“He said, ‘I’m pretty sure this is your ring,’” Rossi recalled, “and I started crying.”
Rossi currently lives in the Lake Berryessa area. The two met in Napa on Monday afternoon so Killian could return the ring in person.
Killian arrived at their meeting place with the ring in a plastic zip-close bag. He had found silver jewelry in the car as well, which he also showed Rossi. The silver jewelry wasn’t hers, she said, but the ring certainly was.
Holding her ring again after 16 years, Rossi was speechless for several moments.
“My hands are shaking,” she said, as she turned the ring over on her finger. The gold of the ring still sparkled brightly. “It looks brand-new,” she said.
“I can’t explain how I feel right now,” Rossi said after a moment. “Thank you so much,” she said, hugging Killian and pressing a folded $50 bill into his hand.
“I wasn’t expecting anything,” Killian said. “I’m very happy. I wasn’t going to give up until I found the owner.”
Now that she has her ring back, “I told my kids I’d buy a chain and put it around my neck,” Rossi said.
The Rossi family is more than a little lucky when it comes to lost class rings.
In 2001, a Rossi family member named Lori Lopez Lockard lost a 1936 Napa High class ring while on vacation in Hawaii. The ring originally belonged to her mother, Alice Rossi Lopez of Napa. Almost a decade later, a man found that ring on the beach in Hawaii and was able to return it to Lopez Lockard.
The two ring owners are related by marriage. Kim Rossi’s husband’s great-uncle, Frank Rossi, was Alice Rossi’s brother.
After years of holding on to Kim Rossi’s ring, Killian could have simply decided to sell it for its gold value. The money might have come in handy. Currently on disability, Killian and his family had to move from Napa to the Suisun area to find more affordable housing. His wife has even sold her own jewelry to make ends meet, he said.
However, “something kept pushing me away from” selling the ring, Killian said. “It seemed special to me. I should try to find the owner. I’m glad I finally did.”
Killian said he simply wanted to do the right thing. “That’s always how I’ve been,” he said. “I would hope someone would do the same for me.”