Coming full circle
Local woman gets wedding rings back after 
forgetting them in St. Vincent de Paul dressing room


March 13, 2009

Marisue Zillig poses in a dressing room at St. Vincent de Paul in West Bend, where she had left her wedding rings on a hook in one of the dressing rooms. Zillig realized hours later and checked back to discover someone had returned the rings for her to pick up.

Two gold rings on a chain. Marisue Zillig left the representation of her life with her husband in a dressing room at St. Vincent de Paul in West Bend last Friday.

"I didn’t hope to dare that someone found them and turned them in," she said. "I called anyway." Debbie Lauer, lead cashier, said it was a woman, but does not know her name, and knows Zillig by sight only as a regular customer. "The lady gave it to me and I said, ‘Oh, my God!’ Because it was two rings and I knew it was significant."

"It was symbols of our lives together," said Zillig, whose husband Matt died Sept. 17.

She is, understandably, grateful to the anonymous woman who did the good deed.




"It might have been tempting for someone to say, ‘Oh well, finder’s keepers,’ especially in these times."

Married for 32 years, the his-and-her wedding bands remind her of the happiness they shared as two kindred spirits.

They met while she was a nurse at Milwaukee County Medical Complex in the spring of 1976, before Froedtert Hospital was built on the grounds. He was a patient, and she learned through a friend of his mother’s that he spent time in Africa, where he taught geography and mathematics in Zambia in 1973.

"I was a confirmed bachelorette," she said, until he called.

"A phone call, a date at the zoo and that was it. I knew if I was ever going to marry, that was the one."

He proposed to her on her 31st birthday.

Herself a former Peace Corps volunteer in Panama and resident of Mexico when she was 17, travel would serve as a lifelong bond.

In the early years, when they had little money, they enjoyed tent camping in Wisconsin. They both taught for several years, including in Zambia from 1980 to 1982.

He worked as a computer instructor for University of Wisconsin campuses and his computing consultant business bloomed, allowing them to travel farther afield, including to Europe and Asia. "We traveled a lot. We tried to do two trips a year. He was self-employed and I was doing volunteer work. "The more adventures the better. We enjoyed going off the beaten path," she said. "In 2001, we went with 16 of our friends and relatives to Zimbawe, Botswana and South Africa.

"We traveled the world and enjoyed mixing with people. He made friends everywhere with that booming voice."
Ah, that deep, resonating voice. Anyone who ever heard him will never forget it. They both sang in the Moraine Chorus and were in Musical Masquers, but he was the star, she’s quick to add. "Many, many, many people say they remember him in ‘The King and I’ or ‘The Pirates of Penzance.’

Yes, he played the king, both times.

He was in the theater group at Georgetown University from which he graduated with a B.A. in history.

But most people remember him from the computer classes he taught, she said. He had a natural affinity for computers – as well as people.

"He was very likable. He was a good person to the core. A good, kind, gentle, loyal person, and very smart," she said.

"His laugh was so wonderful."

They never had children, "just naughty dachshunds," she said with a laugh.

When he was ill, she updated their many friends around the world from their town of Barton home, using the simple computer skills he had taught her.

"We have so many mutual friends that keep me in their lives," she said.

"I feel very fortunate for every day that I had with him. He was a wonderful man and a wonderful husband." And she thinks of him warmly every time she looks at those rings she left behind for a couple hours at the thrift store. "I will always think of that person who turned them in."

This story appeared in The Daily News on March 13, 2009.