Due to the kindness of strangers, the Lamb family of Jacksonville was recently reunited with letters written by World War II veteran Marion Lamb. Courtesy of Debbie Smith.
Category: Editor's Welcome

At Arkansas Living, there’s only one thing we love more than a heartwarming story — and that’s a heartwarming story with an electric cooperative connection.

This one involves the family of Victoria Lamb, senior director of commercial operations for Arkansas Electric Cooperatives, Inc. (AECI). Tori’s husband, Jon, is the great-nephew of World War II veteran Marion Lamb, who served in the South Pacific with the U.S. Army’s 96th Infantry Division.

World War II veteran Marion Lamb. Courtesy of Debbie Smith.

Recently, a Texas postal carrier, Alvin Gauthier, found wartime letters from Marion intended for his parents. As the letters were dated 1942 to 1945, they were simply addressed to Mr. and Mrs. Harvey Lamb in Jacksonville, Arkansas. (They would be Jon’s great-grandparents.)

Knowing how much these letters could mean to the Lamb family, Alvin — himself a Marine Corps veteran who was stationed in Iraq — made a public appeal to find them. A story on Little Rock’s KARK, Channel 4, inspired many Arkansans to try and locate the family.

The letters had gotten separated from a package of genealogy materials sent from Jon’s uncle, Paul Lamb, in Tennessee to Marion’s niece, Debbie Smith, in Texas. Alvin, it turns out, is her postal carrier.

Debbie says, “(Alvin’s) just a good guy, and I’ve talked to him several times. I didn’t even know his name though. Now, he’s family.”

Because instead of just giving the letters to her in Texas, Alvin took personal time off to drive, at his own expense, to Jacksonville and hand-deliver the letters to Debbie’s mother, JoAnn Smith, who is Marion’s youngest and only remaining sibling. (Debbie and JoAnn are Jon’s second cousin and great-aunt, respectively.)

“We had never seen these letters before, so this has been really special for us,” says Debbie, who likewise drove to Jacksonville for the delivery.

What made it so meaningful was not just being reunited with priceless pieces of family history, Debbie says, but being on the receiving end of so much care and generosity —— from Alvin and from strangers.

“What was really the neatest thing was Arkansas viewers. Some of them just took it as a personal mission to find us,” says Debbie, who received multiple messages from well-meaning online sleuths. “My postman was getting bombarded by emails and questions and phone calls. The news station was getting a lot of calls. They were from people trying to help — being Arkansans, being helpful.”

Wishing you a special summer,

Jennifer Christman Cia