Tradition is worth its weight in gold | Virginia Tech News

       The Hokie Gold Legacy program allows Virginia Tech alumni to donate class rings that are melted down to create gold for use in future class rings—a tradition that connects the past, present and future.
        Travis “Rusty” Untersuber is full of emotion as he talks about his father, his father’s 1942 graduation ring, his mother’s miniature ring and the opportunity to add to the family legacy at Virginia Tech. Six months ago, he and his sisters didn’t know what to do with their late parents’ rings. Then, by chance, Untersuber remembered the Hokie Gold Legacy program, which allows alumni or family members of alumni to donate class rings, have them melted down to create Hokie gold and include them in future class rings. A family discussion ensued and they agreed to join the program. “I know the program exists and I know we have a ring,” Winterzuber said. “Only six months ago they were together.” In late November, Entesuber drove 15 hours from his hometown of Davenport, Iowa, to Richmond to visit family over the Thanksgiving holiday. He then visited Blacksburg to attend a ring melting ceremony at the VTFIRE Kroehling Advanced Materials Foundry on the Virginia Tech campus. The awards ceremony, held Nov. 29, has been held annually since 2012 and was even held last year, although only the presidents of the Class of 2022 attended due to coronavirus-related restrictions on the number of people allowed into institutions. This unique tradition of connecting the past and the future began in 1964, when two cadets from Company M of the Virginia Tech Cadets—Jesse Fowler and Jim Flynn—proposed the idea. Laura Wedin, associate director of student and young alumni engagement, coordinates the program to collect rings from alumni who want to have their rings melted and stones removed. It also tracks donation forms and ring owner bios and sends an email confirmation when a submitted ring is received. In addition, Wedding coordinated the gold melting ceremony, which included an Almanac of Trumpets indicating the year in which the gold ring was melted down. Donated rings are posted on the public page of the alumnus or alumnae, and then a current member of the ring design committee transfers each of those rings into a graphite crucible and states the name of the alumnus or alumnae or spouse who originally wore the ring and the year of study. Before placing the ring into a cylindrical object.
        Ant Zuber brought three rings to be melted down – his father’s class ring, his mother’s miniature ring and his wife Doris’s wedding ring. Untersuber and his wife married in 1972, the same year he graduated. After his father’s death, his father’s class ring was given to his sister Kaethe by her mother, and Kaethe Untersuber agreed to donate the ring in case of disaster. After his mother’s death, his mother’s miniature ring was left to his wife Doris Untersuber, who agreed to donate the ring to the trial. Untersuber’s father came to Virginia Tech on a football scholarship in 1938, was a cadet at Virginia Tech and served in the Army after earning a degree in agricultural engineering. His father and mother married in 1942, and the miniature ring served as an engagement ring. Untersuber also donated his class ring for his 50th year graduating from Virginia Tech next year. However, his ring was not one of the eight rings that were melted. Instead, Virginia Tech plans to store his ring in a “time capsule” built near Burroughs Hall as part of the university’s 150th anniversary celebration.
        “We have the opportunity to help people imagine the future and make an impact, and get people thinking about questions like, ‘How can I support a cause?’ and ‘How do I continue the legacy?’” Untersuber said. “The Hokie Gold program is both. It continues the tradition and looks forward to seeing how we make the next great ring. … The legacy it provides is very valuable to me and my wife. It’s today. That’s why we’re giving away two Untersuber, who followed in his father’s footsteps and earned a degree in agricultural engineering before working in the farm equipment industry and is now retired, attended the ceremony along with several members of the Ring Design Committee and the president of the Class of 2023 Once the ring is filled, the crucible is taken to the foundry, where the entire process is overseen by Alan Drushitz, assistant professor of materials science. The crucible is finally placed in a small furnace heated to 1,800 degrees, and within 20 minutes the gold is converted into liquid form. Chairman of the Committee on Designing rings Victoria Hardy, a junior from Williamsburg, Virginia, who will graduate in 2023 with a degree in mechanical engineering and computer science, donned protective gear and used pliers to lift the crucible from the furnace. She then poured the liquid gold into the mold, allowing it to solidify into a small rectangular gold bar. “I think it’s cool,” Hardy said of the tradition. “Each class changes their ring design, so I feel like the tradition itself is unique and has its own character each year. But when you consider that each batch of class rings contains Hokie Gold donated by the graduates and the committee that preceded them, each class is still so closely connected. There are so many layers to the whole ring tradition and I think this piece is a smart decision to provide continuity to something where each class is still so distinct. I like it and I’m happy with it. We were able to come to the foundry and become part of it.”
       The rings are melted at 1,800 degrees Fahrenheit and the liquid gold is poured into a rectangular mold. Photo courtesy of Kristina Franusich, Virginia Tech.
        The gold bar in eight rings weighs 6.315 ounces. Wedding then sent the gold bar to Belfort, which manufactured Virginia Tech class rings, where workers refined the gold and used it to cast Virginia Tech class rings for the following year. They also save a very small amount from each melt for inclusion in ring melts in future years. Today, every gold ring contains 0.33% “Hoki gold”. As a result, each student is symbolically connected to a former Virginia Tech graduate. Photos and videos were taken and posted on social media, introducing friends, classmates and the public to a tradition few seemed to know about. More importantly, the evening caused the students in attendance to think about their future legacies and possible future participation in their class rings. “I definitely want to get a committee together and do something fun like go to the foundry again and donate a ring,” Hardy said. “Maybe it’s like a 50th anniversary celebration. I don’t know if it will be my ring, but if so, I will be happy and hope that we can do something like that. “This is a great way to update a ring. I think it will be less “I don’t need this anymore” and more like “I want to be part of a larger tradition,” if that makes sense. I know this will be a special choice for anyone considering it. “
        Antsuber, his wife and sisters of course believed that this would be the best decision for their family, especially after the four of them had a sentimental conversation remembering the impact Virginia Tech had on their parents’ lives. They cried after talking about the positive impact . “It was emotional, but there was no hesitation,” Winterzuber said. “Once we realized what we could do, we knew it was something we needed to do—and we wanted to do it.”
       Virginia Tech is demonstrating impact through its global land grant, advancing the sustainable development of our communities in the Commonwealth of Virginia and around the world.

Post time: Nov-21-2023