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Lee Harvey Oswald and wife Marina failed to reconcile on the night of Nov. 22, 1963. As a result, Oswald left his wedding ring behind and the next day assassinated President John F. Kennedy. Oswald's wedding ring will be auctioned off by RR Auction of Amherst in October, coinciding with the 50th anniversary of President Kennedy's assassination. (COURTESY)

Oswald wedding ring

Ring from hand that shaped history to be auctioned off


On the morning of Nov. 22, 1963, Lee Harvey Oswald woke after spending the previous evening trying to reconcile with his wife and have her and their two daughters move to Dallas with him.

It didn't go so well. The native Russian had given her husband the silent treatment most of the time, and hopeful statements he did hear were followed by contradictions, according to the Warren Report, the government's account of the Assassination of President John F. Kennedy.

So Oswald arose early that morning, put his wedding ring in a delicate Russian tea cup, left $170 and his wallet in a dresser drawer, grabbed a long brown package and walked into history.

A year ago, that wedding band was found in the files of Marina Oswald's lawyer, apparently forgotten after being returned years ago by the FBI, said Bobby Livingston, executive vice president of RRAuction of Amherst.

Marina has turned over the ring to the auction company, which plans to feature it in an October auction timed to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the Kennedy assassination. Other items include original Oswald family photos with Oswald's descriptions written on the back, and Kennedy's well-worn personal rosary.

To study the ring is to study the life of Oswald, whose life was laid out in detail by the Warren Report. "She never saw Lee without this ring, that is what makes it so incredibly important," Livingston said earlier this week. "The ring is the compelling evidence of his mind-set."

As a Marine, Oswald defected to the Soviet Union in 1959. The Soviets sent him to Minsk, the capital of the Soviet republic of Belarus, to work in a television factory. He married Marina in 1961, and shortly afterward applied to reinstatement as a U.S. citizen, disenchanted with the Soviet brand of communism.

The newlyweds moved to the United States and a life of instability. They lived in Texas, then New Orleans, then back to Texas.

Oswald advocated for Castro and communist Cuba; he tried to shoot a prominent right-wing extremist, retired Army Gen. Edwin A. Walker; he visited Mexico so he could speak to Cuban officials about defecting to Cuba.

He had trouble holding jobs, in part because of conflicts with fellow workers, in part because of the Communist literature he would bring to his work place.

His marriage was about as successful as the rest of his life. Oswald forbade Marina, who could not speak English, to smoke, drink or wear makeup. He hit her on occasion.She complained about a lack of money, called his political activities foolish, and disparaged him in front of others for his sexual inadequacies.She was living with a mutual friend in Irving when Oswald visited Nov. 21. She was angry and give him the silent treatment. He asked her to move to bring their daughters to Dallas, where he had a job at the school book depository.She said she wanted to stay with their friend in Irving through the holidays, and they were spending less money apart."And I told him to buy me a washing machine," she told the Warren Commission. He said he would, then she told him to forget it; he should buy something for himself.

"She wonders what would have happened if she agreed to go back with him," Livingston said.

On Monday, Manchester jeweler David Bellman examined the ring as part of the authentication process.

It is a basic, 14-karat-gold ring. After cleaning it, Bellman could examine some engravings inside: a letter P, followed by a star, and the numbers 583. Inside the star are a barely detectable hammer and sickle.

"The Russians were very good at stamping their logos, if you well, into the pieces they made," said Bellman, who said the ring he examined fits in with what has been written about it in the Warren Report and other accounts.

Livingston said Marina Oswald is now 72. She benefited from a trust established for her and her two daughters by well-wishers. She married a rancher several years after the assassination.

"She wants nothing to do with that ring. She wants nothing to do with that day. She's got grandchildren. She's moved on with life," he said.

mhayward@unionleader.com


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