Ring Day 2015 - Providence unites Pomeroys across generations
March 23rd, 2015 | SMWC
Ninety Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College (SMWC) students, including campus, online and graduate, participated in the time-honored tradition of Ring Day on Saturday, March 21, 2015. During the ceremony in the Church of the Immaculate Conception, participants of the 93rd annual Ring Day soaked up words of wisdom from President Dottie King, Ph.D. and keynote speaker Lisa Stallings, Sister of Providence. Then, each student received her ring from President King, and they all joined together for the Ring Song before exiting the Church with their Woods rings proudly on their hands.
Among those was Danielle LaTourette, campus biology major from Terre Haute, Ind. Six months ago, LaTourette was unsure if she was even going to participate in the Ring Day event. That was before she met Woods alum Mary Frances “Fern” Riordan Edwards in a strange turn of events that can only be described as providence.
“The gravity of Ring Day didn’t make sense to me until this happened,” said LaTourette.
Last fall, LaTourette was working her part-time job at David’s Bridal in Terre Haute, Ind., when her manager found out she was a student at The Woods. Her manager excitedly told LaTourette that she had found a Woods ring several years earlier and had always hoped to return it to the original owner. She asked if LaTourette would be willing to take the ring and find its original owner. LaTourette gladly accepted. Her only clue besides the class year on the ring was an engraved name on the inside of the band. “Fern.”
After many Internet searches, she was able to find Fern’s last name on a list of SMWC alums. She then began searching for where she could find Edwards. Her answer – Terre Haute South High School, where Edwards is a guidance counselor. When Edwards received the call, she couldn’t contain her excitement. She wanted to meet LaTourette that day.
Edwards had lost the ring 16 years previously and thought she would never see it again. Obviously the ring had been very special to her, but even more so considering how she received it.
Edwards began her education at The Woods with the class of ’77 but had to complete her degree several years later as a non-traditional student. At that time, Edwards decided not to purchase a ring and was unable to participate in a Ring Day ceremony. In 1981, some friends from her original class got together and purchased her a ring.
“These loving Woods women knew how much having a ring would mean to me and did a private ring ceremony, which allowed me to celebrate with them my hard work and love of The Woods,” stated Edwards.
That ring was heavy with this history when LaTourette took it to meet Edwards in person and return the ring. What LaTourette didn’t know was that Edwards had already replaced the ring.
“For my 50th birthday – November 2005 – my daughter Emily surprised and frankly shocked me with a new ring,” said Edwards. “It was such a generous and unexpected gift. It blew me away.”
And this new ring was about to become a generous gift for the second time. LaTourette never expected to be leaving their meeting with another Woods ring.
“She said, ‘I want to give you the new ring.’ And I just started crying and said, ‘No I can’t take it. There is no way I can receive this. It’s too big of a gift,’” explained LaTourette. “And she said, ‘Just try it on.’ I put it on, and it fit me perfectly. There was no way I could say no after that. I’m just so appreciative. There are no words.”
Perfect timing never had truer meaning, with LaTourette’s Ring Day ceremony only 6 months away.
“I was kind of on the fence about purchasing a ring and participating in Ring Day,” explained LaTourette. “I thought the ring was beautiful, and I wanted to have one, but I didn’t really understand the meaning behind the ring and why it was so important. But now it is just clear to me that it’s so important and it represents so much more than what I originally thought.”
On Saturday, LaTourette and Edwards shared their first Ring Day experience together. Edwards co-presented the ring to LaTourette in the emotionally moving ceremony.
“It was so magical that she could present me her ring. I’m happy to be able to share this with her,” said LaTourette.
The Woods ring brought LaTourette and Edwards together and began a lifelong connection.
“I have really enjoyed getting to know Danielle,” Edwards said. “I feel like we are going to be friends for a very long time, and I hope to be a good support for her.”