"I lost the ring in the water," Hoey said in a news release from the Roman Catholic Diocese of Norwich, which operates the high school.
"I remember the waves were awesome that day. I looked for it for a while, but knowing it was gone for good, and having to tell my dad about losing it put a real damper on the day. It was a long ride home. We got through it, though, and life went on," Hoey said.
Nancy Hedman, who now lives in Tallahassee, Fla, said she was working as a nurse at Misquamicut Beach's first aid station, which also houses the lost and found, during the summer when Hoey lost the ring.
Hedman said she does not remember taking the ring, but she recently found it while cleaning out her attic. She said it was in a box with other objects dating from the same time period when she was working at the beach.
"The only thing I can think of is someone found it in the water or the sand and brought it to the first aid station. I don't remember seeing it or receiving it, but it ended up in the lost and found stuff," she said.
The recent discovery spurred Hedman to contact the school, which used the initials on the ring and the graduating class year to identify Hoey as the owner.
Hedman sent the ring back to Hoey in the mail.
"It was crazy, just absolutely crazy," Hoey said. "Forty years ago I'm swimming and my new ring is gone, and 40 years later a new ring comes in the mail... and it brings back a lot of good memories, too."