- Associated Press - Saturday, September 20, 2014

BRAINTREE, Mass. (AP) - Nancy Nicosia wasn’t sure if she would ever get to return a 1965 Hingham High class ring she found years ago to its owner with the initials TJM - even after The Patriot Ledger ran a story about her search in late August.

Now Thomas J. Murphy of Orleans has it again, almost 50 years after he lost it.

Nicosia handed the gold and garnet ring to Murphy earlier this month, during a visit that Murphy and his sister Sheila Davis of Hingham made to Nicosia’s Braintree home.

“I wanted to thank you in person for your perseverance,” the retired lumber yard foreman told Nicosia.

“You were hiding all the time,” Nicosia teased.



“And I didn’t know it,” Murphy said.

As the trio sipped sparkling juice - Nicosia’s toast for the occasion - the lifelong Braintree resident recounted the story of how the ring came to her, and her efforts to track down TJM - the initials engraved on the inside of the ring, her only clue.

Back in 1999, she discovered the ring in a box of personal possessions of an uncle who had died. Her uncle had no connection to Hingham, “so I knew he must have found it somewhere,” Nicosia told Murphy and Davis.

Murphy, who’s now 68, had dated a Quincy girl for a while after he graduated in 1965. “She’s the only person who could have had it,” Murphy said. He didn’t notice his missing ring, but he soon had other things on his mind: He was drafted into the Army, and was on his way to boot camp at Fort Dix, New Jersey, when he developed a medical condition that gave him a deferment.

“If that hadn’t happened, I would have been sent to Vietnam,” he said.

He went to work at a Hingham lumber yard, then moved to Cape Cod, where there was plenty of lumber but few workers. He’s lived there ever since, through marriage, children, divorce and retirement.

Nicosia, who’s 88, had been trying to find TJM off and on for years. She and her daughter found eight matches from phone books and other directories. She wrote to all of them. Only two replied, wishing her well in her search.

This spring she called Hingham High for help. They confirmed there was only one TJM in the Class of ‘65, and gave Nicosia his last known address. She wrote, waited, and heard nothing - until the Ledger ran a story and photo about her quest on Aug. 26.

Davis, who’s two years younger than her brother, was visiting friends in Florida when she saw the story online. “The year and initials were right,” she said, so she called him that night.

A few days later Davis called the Ledger, then Nicosia, to arrange the ring’s return.

“I was in shock,” Murphy said. He had moved twice since he’d lived at the address the school had. “That’s why I didn’t get your letter,” he told Nicosia.

His daughter, who lives in the Washington, D.C., area, had emailed him some old photos days earlier. “So I guess it was time for this,” he said of the ring.

Nicosia had the ring in a brightly-colored little box. She handed it to Murphy, who silently studied it, then slipped it on his finger and gave Nicosia a light hug.

“Thank you,” he said. “God bless you.”

“So how does it feel?” she asked.

“Strange,” he said.

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