"Hello Darling!" ---June 20, 2000
The words brought tears to many eyes as a letter, lost for nearly 40 years, was delivered to remaining family members last week.

Richard "Eugene" Spradlin of Strunk was a patient in the Louisville Veterans Hospital in 1960 when he wrote a letter to his wife Della Mae. Della was then a patient in a hospital in Danville, Ky. Eugene dropped the letter with 4 cents in postage stamps in the mail chute on the 3rd floor of the hospital where it remained for nearly 40 years until recent remodeling of the hospital discovered the letter hung in the chute.

Judy Franklin, US Postal Service representative for the Veterans Administration, spent several days and made numerous phone calls trying to locate Eugene, Della or any family member. The search was made more
difficult since the letter was addressed to Danville -- not Strunk, Ky.

Eventually, Franklin discovered that several Spradlins live in McCreary County and a couple of calls to postmasters here in McCreary County located the family.

Eugene, born April 8, 1925, was a World War II veteran of the Army Air Corps. The son of Henry and Matilda Stephens Spradlin, Eugene died May 22, 1977, at the Lexington Veterans Administration Hospital. He was just 52.
Della Mae later died at age 45 on September 13, 1980. Both are buried in the Upper Cal Hill Cemetery. A son, Gary, still resides in McCreary County.

The Post Office delivered the letter on Thursday, June 8, to Eugene's brother, Hobert Spradlin in Strunk.

The stained, yellowed letter, was opened by a nephew, Herman Roberts, who read the faded penciled letter that had been dropped in the mail chute on September 19, 1960. Roberts stated that his Uncle Eugene was the main
reason he had joined the Army as a young man.

The letter expressed concern over his wife's health and other family issues. Eugene told his wife how his brother, Hobert, and others had come to visit.

The letter closed with the words, "Stay sweet. All my love, Gene."

Franklin stated that this letter was one of 3 found stuck in the mail chute in the Louisville Veterans Administration Hospital which is undergoing renovation. Currently, work is limited to the third floor where this letter was found. It is anticipated that other letters may be found as renovations progress to the other two floors.

"Delivering this letter was a pleasure," stated Franklin. "I always worry that the letter might be bad news until it is opened."
Contributed by:  Della Perez

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