A wedding ring lost almost 40 years ago has been returned to its wearer's widow after a homeowner found it in a floorboard and tracked down the rightful owners, with only the inscription for a clue.

"I just cried ... because my husband is dead 18 years," said Catherine Zenkus, 74, who reclaimed the ring Friday in a ceremony at Northport High School. "I was just shocked."

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The gold band belonged to her late husband, John. Their toddler son, Anthony, hid it during the early years of their marriage, Zenkus said.

The ring turned up in 2001 behind a baseboard heater in what is now John Fanuka's Northport home. Struck by the band's significance, he strove to find the couple.

Noting the inscription — "Kitty to Johnny — 3/31/51" — Fanuka consulted neighbors, searched online and phoned previous owners of the home. But he was stumped until the recent arrival of a piece of junk mail addressed to Kitty Zenkus.

"I didn't put two and two together at first," he said. "I hadn't looked at the ring in five years ... and I ran upstairs and sure enough, it was Kitty."

An Internet search quickly led him to Zenkus, who said she and her family moved out the house 30 years ago.

Zenkus, who tearfully accepted the ring, said she would wear it on a chain around her neck.