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Mattituck woman’s high school ring turns up 36 years after it was lost in Peconic Bay

Debbie Wells Cassidy with Rich Miliauskas and the recovered ring. Photo courtesy Debbie Wells Cassidy.

Debbie Wells Cassidy of Mattituck was just one year out of high school when, on a summer day in 1981 while at a beach party on the bay in Laurel, she lost her class ring.

“The ring was too big and just slipped off my finger.” she recalls. “I was so upset.”

Cassidy and her friends were searching frantically for the ring when a large firecracker went off nearby and they lost track of where she’d dropped it. 

She never thought she’d see the ring again.

Two years ago, she mentioned to her friend Jimmy Parsons, an avid metal detector enthusiast, that she’d lost the ring and described the location. He promised to keep an eye out for it and spread the word to his fellow metal detecting friends.

On Saturday afternoon, Parsons’ friend Rich Miliauskas found the ring in the water off the beach in Laurel,  buried in the sand.

Photo: Debbie Wells Cassidy

Cassidy was beside herself with excitement.

“I was beyond happy,” she says. “You have no idea. My husband and I thought it would be all beat up but it’s not. It looks perfect!”

“Karma is such a good thing,” says Cassidy and tells a story about some jewelry she once purchased on eBay. She found a high school ring in the collection and set out to track down the owner. She contacted the seller, who circulated a photo of the ring and soon found out that it belonged to a man who had passed away. The man’s sister had none of her brother’s possessions.

“I gave her the ring back,” says Cassidy. 

So 36 years after dropping her ring in the bay, Debbie Wells Cassidy proudly wears it on her finger once again.

“The funny thing is,” she says, “is that now it fits.”




Katharine is a writer and photographer who has lived on the North Fork for nearly 40 years, except for three-plus years in Hong Kong a decade ago, working for the actor Jackie Chan. She lives in Cutchogue. Email Katharine