Tag Archives: old letters

Sunday Notes & Letters

Thank you to those who have been writing to me – I’ve certainly enjoyed receiving your letters. Keep’em coming.

Today, as I do on Sundays, I’m sharing a letter with you that is not mine. It’s a beautiful story that is as much to do about letters as it is about love and being in the right place at the right time.



Neil Whitaker of High Point, NC had been searching for nearly 30 years for the descendants of a couple he only knew by name, a couple that had written more than 100 love letters dating back to 1916. Whitaker bought a bundle of old letters that this couple had exchanged at an estate sale in the mid eighties for five dollars.

Then in January a chance encounter changed everything. While working at his job at the Hanes-Lineberry Funeral Home in Jamestown, NC, Whitaker was taking down names of the survivors of a woman who had recently passed away. One woman said her name was Nancy Ellen Hobbs. He routinely asked the name of her husband who replied, “Graham Kerr Hobbs III.”

Graham Kerr Hobbs. That was the man’s name in all of those love letters. Whitaker froze for a moment and then started firing questions at Hobbs to determine whether he might be a descendent of the Graham Kerr Hobbs who had penned all those endearing letters more than 100 years ago. Satisfied that he was indeed a direct descendant, Whitaker said, “Well, Mr. Hobbs, I believe I have something for you.”

Kerr (left) and Whitaker | hpenews.com

Kerr (left) and Whitaker | hpenews.com

The bundle was mostly made up of letters between Kerr’s grandparents along with some old family photographs.  He was completely unaware of their existence and not entirely sure how they ended up in an estate sale of a woman who was unknown to him.

Whitaker turned all the letters over to Kerr and his wife; something he wanted to do from the very moment he read the letters and realized that someone out there needed to know the love that this couple shared. “People don’t care about each other like that anymore. That was true love,” he told Jimmy Tomlin of hpenews.com.

Kerr was delighted to receive the letters, but equally touched by Whitaker’s effort. “That’s the part that amazes me and my family more than anything,” he tells Tomlin, “that Neil had the wherewithal, the patience, the decency and the kindness to return the letters to the family after all these years. And then there’s the karma of just being in the right place at the right time. It’s all pretty amazing.”

For Jimmy Tomlin’s full story, please click here.