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USPS reunites nurses with missing letters

Verla Wilson, a retired nurse in Bellwood, NE, displays the binder containing letters and photos that she and her classmates exchange.

A group of retired nurses who have used the mail to keep in touch for almost 60 years are expressing thanks to the Postal Service after the organization recovered a missing binder that contained their most recent letters.

The 23 nurses have written to each other regularly since graduating in 1961 from a nursing school in Lincoln, NE. They keep their most recent letters in a large binder that is shipped through Priority Mail from one classmate to the next.

Upon receiving the binder, each nurse removes her previous letter and inserts a new one, along with photos of her grandchildren and great-grandchildren. The binder is then shipped to the next classmate on the list.

It generally takes 12-18 months for the binder to make its way to each nurse, then the process begins again.

Recently, though, the package that was supposed to contain the binder was empty when it arrived at the home of one of the nurses. After USPS was contacted, employees investigated and determined that the package had become damaged in transit and the binder had become separated from the box.

About two weeks later, the Postal Service recovered the binder and delivered it to Ann Kirk, a Lincoln resident who is listed on the cover as the contact.

Verla Wilson, a Bellwood, NE, resident who participates in the letter-writing exchange, said she appreciated that USPS recovered the binder.

“Our letters are priceless,” Wilson said, adding that she is “dependent on and grateful for our little town’s Post Office.”

The nurses, most of whom are in their 80s, have been through lots of ups and downs over the years. Nine classmates who once participated in the letter exchange have died, although the surviving members include loving tributes to them in the binder.

The nurses plan to attend their 60th class reunion in Lincoln next year — if it’s safe to do so. Until then, they’ll keep writing their “round robin” letters.

Merrily Schmid, a USPS retail associate at the Bellwood Post Office who helped Wilson transcribe the saga of the missing binder for posterity, praised the women for their devotion to the mail.

“You just don’t see people corresponding that way anymore,” she said.

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