Why You Should Update Your Alumni Address

February 20, 2014

Nearly thirty years ago, D.C. Cathro was walking along a road in Frederick, Maryland, when he spotted a ring. It was a Duke Class of 1970 ring, and Cathro could make out the engraved name—J.R. Sanders—and the Greek letters Sigma Nu around the stone.

Then a high-school student, Cathro handwrote a letter to Duke with the details.

“I got the address from the library where I worked,” says Cathro, now a graphic designer and actor. “We had phonebooks at the library for every state. I remember sending it off and never hearing anything back.”

Cathro kept the ring in a trinket box on his dresser, but when he went off to college, the ring, along with many of his other belongings, ended up in the attic. Recently he unpacked some of those attic boxes and rediscovered the ring.

This time, he e-mailed Duke—and got a response. Claudia Attarian, DAA’s coordinator of alumni services, researched alumni records and found John R. Sanders ’70, a retired Navy captain, living in Crozet, Virginia. She put the two in touch, and Cathro promptly mailed the ring.

“I am elated that it has shown up after all these years,” Sanders wrote in an e-mail message to Cathro. “After almost thirty years, I had given up on ever seeing it again.”

Attarian says that she couldn’t match lost-and-found items, including Chanticleer yearbooks and even a graduation Bible, without the help of alumni who stay in touch with DAA.

 “Keeping that contact information current is really helpful to reconnect people with their belongings,” she says.