NZ-Michigan Penpals Connected for 40 Years
Berwyn Arthur, 87, of Waimate and Wilma Christian, 91, of Michigan have been writing to each other for more than four decades and though the two women have been communicating since 1971, the international correspondence actually dates back long before that.
It was 1941 in Michigan, when Wilma’s sister Shirley drew a pen pal’s name from a Sunday school bulletin and started writing letters to Berwyn Greenwood in New Zealand.
“The first letter I received from Shirley was dated June 29, 1941. I would have just turned 13,” Berwyn recalls. The two girls wrote for just two years, exchanging small gifts along with their letters, until Shirley’s tragic death in a boating accident.
Not wanting to lose touch, Wilma’s mother, Oril, took up writing to Berwyn in Shirley’s place. “I loved writing to Wilma’s mother,” Berwyn says. “She wrote such interesting letters.”
Wilma keeps notebooks filled with copies of the handwritten letters her mother and Berwyn exchanged. After Oril died in 1971, Wilma picked up the correspondence. And she and Berwyn have been writing ever since.
“Seventy-five years is what it adds up to,” Wilma says.
“It has been a very enjoyable friendship,” Berwyn adds. “And I hope some of our families will continue it after we depart.”
“She’s kind of become a sister,” Wilma says.
Original article by Kathleen Alaks, Grants Pass Daily Courier, April 10, 2016.