Buffalo, NY - Some things just defy the odds.Such was the case in mid-September when (Ret.) Lt. Col. James E. McNicholas Jr. ’68, MS ‘97 received a phone call Viridiana Nunez, a nursing student in El Paso, TX. McNicholas didn’t know Nunez but she is someone he won’t soon forget.
You see Nunez reunited this 74-year old, first generation college graduate with something he lost a half-century ago: his Canisius College class ring.
McNicholas received the ring as a graduation gift. He rarely took it off so when it went missing one day in 1970, this U.S. Army officer tore through the Prince Edward Avenue home he and his wife, Dorothy, owned in El Paso, TX, where McNicholas was stationed.
The ring never turned up - until one late summer day in September 2020.
Nunez and her family had gathered for a graduation party when her father, Alberto, pulled out an old class ring marked ‘Canisius College 1968.’ As he explained it, landscapers uncovered the ring while doing yardwork outside the home he and his wife, Maria, rented in the 1990s – on Prince Edward Avenue in El Paso, TX.
With no internet and therefore no way to search for the ring’s rightful owner, the couple kept it safely tucked away – until the September graduation party at which Alberto showed the ring to his daughters. While looking at it, Viridiana noticed a name engraved on the inside and her search for James McNicholas Jr. began.
Just a few days later, Viridiana was on the phone with McNicholas, in Buffalo, making arrangements to reunite with the Canisius class ring he lost so long ago.
“The whole story is just incredible,” McNicholas says. “For me, the ring represented everything that Canisius gave to me, not just book knowledge but something else I was able to develop through dealing and living with so many different people, especially the Jesuits. To have it back after so many years … I just couldn’t be more grateful.”