A romance decades old, but no less sweet for the time gone past, inspired one woman to find the rightful owner of a lost love letter.
As WBRC News reports, Kathi Arnold of Columbia, South Carolina made an interesting discovery in the antique sewing machine she had found at a local thrift shop. Already, Arnold had been delighted by the items left in the drawers by a former owner — old patterns, patches, and an old-fashioned pair of scissors. But when she noticed that one of the drawers wouldn’t close properly, Arnold reached in and pulled out a beautiful letter from a soldier to the wife he left behind.
Written in 1963 and addressed from Korea, the letter from Sgt. First Class Walter Smith to his wife, Roberta, speaks lovingly of everything he misses about her
Hello my darling,” Walter writes. “I got the sweetest letter today from the sweetest little angel on earth. You do write wonderful letters, sweetheart and they tell me just what I want to hear, that you love me. I am so very fortunate to have you love me, little one. I don’t know what I did to deserve this, such wonderful love, but I don’t question it. Your loving husband — Forever, Walter.”
After she found it, Arnold began searching for the letter’s rightful owner.
“I thought, ‘What an important part of a family history this would be,’ and I really wanted to get it back to either the person who wrote it or the person who received it or their family,” she told WIS-TV News.
An inquiry at the address on the letter found a pair of twin brothers with no knowledge of Walter or Roberta. Nor was the owner of the thrift store able to help. Arnold then enlisted the help of a local news station and and asked the public to help reunite the letter with the Smith family.
Then came a breakthrough. A private investigator named Paul Silvaggio saw the story and decided to help.
“It was very touching,” Silvaggio told WYFF News. “I didn’t know whether Walter or Roberta were still alive, but wondered if there were family members who might find sentimental value in the letter.”
Less than an hour later, Silvaggio had found Roberta Smith’s nephew, Jeffrey Campbell, who lives near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Campbell says that Walter and Roberta never had children, but remembers how loving they were with their nieces and nephews and how happy they were as a couple. His mother also remembers the handsome soldier her sister met at Fort Jackson.
“It was a loving relationship. They were very nice as a couple,” Jacki Campbell told WYFF. “Walter was a nice guy. I really loved him as a brother-in-law.”
According to Campbell, the Smiths remained married until Walter’s death in 1971. Roberta passed away in 2014.
Roberta’s sister told WYFF that the sewing machine where the letter was found originally belonged to their mother, who had lived with Roberta while Walter was away. Jacki is looking forward to seeing the letter that inspired those who read it to find Walter and her sister. “I’d love to have that letter,” she said. “I knew how much love they had for one another.”