Love Letters

Filed in Personal  /  January 14, 2019 /


This is one of the coolest stories I’ve had the pleasure to share.

Around 8 years ago, I was back in Decatur, Illinois for the summer. Macklin and I were home from SIU after our freshman year.

One of our favorite weekend activities is going to garage sales. At one particular sale, I came across a lot of old letters being sold for $1.50. I could tell they had a lot of history in them, and I thought they were too cool to leave behind. So I bought them.

The day I found them on June 27, 2011. My post from Instagram almost 8 years ago.

I started reading them and realized they were love letters from WWII. Her name was Mary, and she was writing to her love, Harry. I remember sitting at my now in-laws house pouring over the letters for hours. Who were these people? Did they end up together?

I’ve always kept them. How could I throw letters like that away?

Right after the New Year, I stumbled across them again. Like many others, I got caught up in the Marie Kondo Tidying Up craze and found them (yes, they brought me joy).  A random thought crossed my mind: How cool it would be if I could find information about Mary and Harry? 

I started by asking on Facebook if the Internet could work its magic. But then I thought “I’m a pretty good detective. Why don’t I just try?”

I started at Google with some luck, and then I ended up on the free version of Ancestry. Two hours later and I had a lead; I found Mary’s sister’s obituary thanks to her sister’s return stamp.

The next day, I got access through the paid version of Ancestry, and that’s when I turned over clue after clue. From obituaries, military records, etc.  I realized Mary didn’t marry the man in the letters. BUT I did see she met the love of her life and had five kids.

In short, I FINALLY FOUND MARY! And I successfully contacted her children on Facebook. I got her two daughters on the phone, and I learned that she was alive at 94 years old. Music to my ears!

The next day, I packaged off the letters and sent them to California, where Mary settled with her husband after she was evacuated from Guam. It was bittersweet letting them go, but I’m so glad she would be flipping through them literally 70 years after she wrote them.

On Saturday, the letters ended up in her hands at 94 years old. I was even able to FaceTime with her and her daughters.

She said the letters have brought back so many memories and made her so happy.


What I learned: 

  • Mary was stationed in Guam as a teacher.
  • Harry and Mary met in Guam, but he had to leave since he was a private contractor.
  • Harry and her were close to becoming engaged, but she eventually fell in love with her husband Ralph in Guam.
  • Harry wasn’t “the one that got away,” but the letters are still meaningful to Mary since they bring back a lot of memories of her years teaching on Guam in 1949 and 1950.
  • Harry also married. He married a Navy nurse he met in Guam. They also had a long life and had children.
  • Harry and his wife sadly have passed. I haven’t been able to get in touch with his family.
  • The mystery of why the letters were in Illinois is still a mystery. He was living in Decatur at the time, but he ended up settling in Oregon. I’m thinking the letters were found in an attic.



This whole experience has been so special to me, and I’m glad it’s been such a heartwarming story for you all to follow along. In a world with so much darkness at times, it’s things like this that remind me that human connection brings such a light to our lives.


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The things you do for yourself are gone when you are gone, but the things you do for others remain as your legacy.