WWII love letters returned to descendants of writers

Veterans Voices

SEVIERVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – Nearly two dozen letters sent back and forth by a couple during World War II are now in the hands of their descendants.

A pair of friends found those letters in a Sevierville knife shop and returned them to family hundreds of miles away.

WATE 6 On Your Side reporter Elizabeth Kuebel brings us the story of a mission to preserve history.

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“We felt like this was something that was really personal and I felt like it deserved to be delivered in a personal way,” said Clarksville friends Lindsy Wolke and Megan Grant.

Back in September, the pair stumbled on a collection of letters dating back to the 1940s in Smoky Mountain Knife Works.

With every page, they watched the relationship evolve between Mr. Elias Maxwell and Miss Ilaine Murray.

“We were so eager to read them because we just didn’t know what the next one was going to unfold and tell,” Wolke said.

They were also eager to get in touch with the couple’s descendants.

They found their kids’ names in an online obituary and reached out on social media. That led to an in-person meet-up to hand deliver the letters hundreds of miles away in New Jersey.

“It was pretty emotional, everybody was kind of laughing still, thinking through memories, and they were telling us a bunch of different memories,” Grant said. “It felt like a movie, it felt like dream or something. But it was very comfortable, there was no awkwardness, it was just like instantly we all just connected.”

The opportunity to preserve a piece of the past brought with it an experience and memories the pair of friends will never forget.

“I feel like we were meant to go there and meet them because now we have a whole ‘nother family,” Wolke said. “It doesn’t feel like we were doing anything heroic or crazy, this what we were supposed to do. It just feels like this was the only thing that we could do with these.”


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