A Wealthy Man

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Nino Lercara is a wealthy man.

We have no idea how much the retired mason and his wife have in the bank, but we know they have wealth of spirit that cannot be measured.

In July, Barbara Fitzpatrick, a 65-year-old retired teacher from Flushing, went to her bank, took out $2,900 and placed the money into a white envelope. She told our reporter she was planning to buy a new computer after doing some errands.

Later, when she went to look for the envelope, it wasn’t there. It isn’t hard to imagine how terrible that would feel. Like most retired teachers, she isn’t rich. Losing that money was devastating.

Enter Nino, a 64-year-old retiree, who was walking to his car when he noticed an envelope on the ground. He picked it up but didn’t look inside right away. He was driving home when he opened the envelope and saw it contained $2,900.

He immediately called his wife of 43 years, Nina, who without hesitation told him that he had to turn around and look for the owner of the money.

They both knew that was the right thing to do.

“I wouldn’t have slept that night if I would have kept the money,” said Nino, who came to America from Sicily when he was 10.

He pulled into the parking lot where he had found the money just as Fitzpatrick was driving away. A store worker who was helping the frantic woman told him this was the lady who had lost the money.

Fitzpatrick says Nino is a hero. He wouldn’t even accept a reward.

Nino said he has nine siblings and this is how he was raised.

“For me, it comes naturally,” he said.

People like Nino and his wife help to restore faith in the human spirit. They could have celebrated the windfall but instead they believed it was their duty to get the money into the hands of the rightful owner.

We have often run stories in our papers that show the darker side of humanity. Murders, rapes and robberies are news, but it is a pleasure to be able to tell the story of two generous and thoughtful ordinary people.

Fitzpatrick is not the only one who benefitted. We are all a little richer because of Nino and Nina.

Posted 12:00 am, August 17, 2012
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