Sunday, August 28, 2016

I'm reposting an entry from August 29, 2006, that first appeared in The Daily Citizen. 
     I knew Miss Connie!  She used to attend the Van Patten, Marsh and Crook family reunions held in the Pangburn United Methodist Church the second Saturday in August.  I do not remember Miss Connie's date of death.   ...  Mary Kay James posted: August 28, 2016

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

   True Story - Good Things Still Happen      
Reprint of Story from Searcy Daily Citizen
10-year-old finds long-lost ring, returns it to beloved teacher, 97
By Warren Watkins Sunday, August 27, 2006 12:44 AM CDT The Daily Citizen
When Alec Bourgeois saw the circle of gold sticking up out of the ground ina bare spot of his front yard, like any 10-year-old he was curious and excited. A little bit of digging and he soon held in his hand a small token that held the power of 77 years of history.
"It was like a treasure," Bourgeois said. The red-head, freckled boy took the ring inside to his mother, Michelle Bourgeois, who cleaned it up. A 1929 class ring from Pangburn High School, it contained the initials "C. Y." The letters rang a bell, but she couldn't quite put her finger on who the ring could belong to. Soon a friend looked at the ring and had a guess. "It's Miss Connie's ring!" he said, and it turned out he was right. Connie Yingling Patterson, affectionately called "Miss Connie" by her beloved students, graduated from Pangburn High School in 1929 and lost the ring, found it, then lost it again.
For years it had laid just under the surface of the earth in the yard that once belonged to her sister, Edith. "She was my sister and I half-raised her eight children, " Miss Connie said. The school's cafeteria is named for "Miss Connie" in honor of 30 years teaching at PHS in a career spanning four decades. Miss Connie's own education wasn't easy. Her father made her repeat the 8th grade rather than begin at PHS, but when the family moved to town she was finally able to enroll and eventually graduate.
Michelle had another mystery to solve - where was Miss Connie now? During a trip to the doctor's office, she ran into two old-timers from Pangburn who lived in Harding Place, an assisted living center in Searcy. They knew the living education legend was their neighbor, and that she was now 97 year sold. Soon the Bourgeois family was knocking on Miss Connie's door and the ring was back in her hands. "It was wonderful," Miss Connie said of receiving the ring again. "I was so happy."
In return, Miss Connie gave Bourgeois a reward he now cherishes, a treasure of his own to keep - a Case knife once owned by her husband, Kie, who died last month. Kie was a retired railroad worker. Bourgeois later wrote of his adventure: "Well, when I found out that the ring belonged to dear Miss Connie and that is actually belonged to somebody that is alive, well, I thought it was amazing because she is 97 years old. I mean, not all people or not even many people live to be 97. I wish all people would live to be 97. This was very special to me because the knife she gave me was one of the few things she had left of her husband's, and if he lived with Miss Connie he was a very nice man. It was really nice that it actually belonged to a woman that inspired many people in Pangburn and the cafeteria was named for her.
I go to the same school in Pangburn. I will always remember Miss Connie and take very good care of her husband's knife. "The ten-year-old said he was telling a friend at school about finding the ring and, as he pointed to her picture on the wall, said, "See, that's whose ring I found. "Miss Connie's teaching career began in 1938 in a one-room schoolhouse where she lit the fire every morning and swept the floor every night. A mentor to thousands of children, she taught more than three generations of students. After retirement, she showed her enthusiasm for life when she married for the first time at age 75.
Michelle plans to take Miss Connie to a jeweler to have the ring cleaned, repaired and to have the stone replaced. "It's a great story of someone doing a kindness for someone else," Arthur Churchill, executive director of Harding Place. "It was a moving story to see."
Not everyone who will read this would have had a chance to read this in the Daily Citizen.
Nice things still happen, - even to 97 year olds. Hope you enjoyed it as much as I did.


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