South Bend, IN -- It's a story about love, public service and a delayed delivery. Nearly 60 years ago, Robert Rodgers sent a letter from Army basic training in Fort Campbell, Kentucky to his wife, Jean, in New Carlisle. But he recently found out that letter somehow got lost and he had no idea his wife never received it.
The two married about six months before he shipped off to basic training with the Army's 503rd Airborne Infantry. He was 21 when he wrote the letter in June 1953, his wife was 19.
Bob said he wrote her nearly every day.
"She was a very kind, very considerate person," he said. "Taught me a lot."
Rodgers narrowly avoided deployment overseas and the couple eventually moved to Niles and had four daughters.
Jean died in 2005 after a long battle with cancer. So imagine Bob's confusion when he received a phone call from the New Carlisle postmaster.
"I said, 'In New Carlisle?'" he recalled. "I haven't lived there in over 60 years."
New Carlisle postmaster Connie Tomaszewski told Bob she found the letter last Thursday while she was sorting mail. It stood out to her because the envelope was yellow and the postmark on it was nearly 60 years old.
After tracking him down and calling several people with the last name "Rodgers" in the phone book, she found Bob and hand delivered it to him in Niles the same day.
"I could have kissed her," he laughed. "But she shook my hand and said, 'I'm just elated that I could deliver it.'"
The letter would mean even more if Jean was still here, he added. But he's grateful for an unexpected connection with the love of his life - even if it's 60 years late.
"There's hardly a night goes by that I don't wake up and think that she's with me, you know? We were very happy together. We had a good life. I had no idea that I could ever find anybody any better that could put up with my nonsense," he smiled.
Bob plans to frame the letter and hang it in his bedroom.
As for an explanation about where the letter has been for the last 60 years, a spokeswoman from the United States Postal Service said sometimes old letters like that end up at flea markets and auctions where people buy them then stick them in the mail.
But there is no proof that's what happened in Bob's situation.